JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) held a news conference Wednesday morning after the first case of monkeypox was reported in the state.

Health officials said the specimen was tested at the Mississippi State Department of Health Public Health Laboratory. An investigation to identify persons who may have encountered the patient while they were infectious is ongoing.

According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, the individual who tested positive for monkeypox recently traveled outside the state.

Byers said their goal is to identify cases, prevent transmission and make sure the public is aware of the risks associated with the virus.

“Anybody who has direct exposure to an individual with monkeypox is at risk for infection regardless of your gender, regardless of your sexual orientation. In the United States and globally, we have seen many of cases among men who have sex with men. That doesn’t mean it’s the only population who can be a risk for infection,” he stated.

On Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global emergency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is considering whether to declare monkeypox a public health emergency.

Monkeypox, clinically known as orthopox, is a disease related to smallpox—or variola—though monkeypox is typically less severe.

According to health experts, development (incubation) of the disease after exposure is one to two weeks. 

Health experts said transmission can occur with close skin-to skin contact – kissing, cuddling or sex – with an infected person. Transmission can also occur by touching clothing or linens, bedding, or towels of an infected person, or inhaling the respiratory droplets during prolonged close contact with an infected person.

Symptoms may start out as a fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and muscle aches, followed by a rash that starts out as flat and then advances to pimples, or blisters and ulcers on the face, body and private parts (sexual organs). The rash can be itchy and painful. It can be confused with sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and herpes, or with chickenpox. 

The illness typically lasts two to four weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

MSDH has received limited doses of vaccine that will be used to treat MSDH identified individuals exposed to a case of monkeypox.