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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Monkeypox has returned to Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health today confirmed two new cases of what is now termed mpox involving adults in Hennepin County. They are the first cases reported in the state this year.

A news release says the last reported case of illness in Minnesota was reported in November of last year when there were a total of 234 cases reported statewide. According to the health department, the virus that causes illness is "primarily spread by prolonged close contact, typically skin-to-skin contact, with rash, scabs, or bodily fluids containing the virus." It is often spread through sexual contact.

(Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, file)

State health officials note there is a safe and effective vaccine for mpox. Two doses of the vaccine significantly reduce the chance of infection and can prevent the risk of serious illness. They note that anyone who has already received two doses of the vaccine does not need to receive additional doses.

“The JYNNEOS vaccine is an important tool to prevent mpox infection, particularly after receiving two doses, as recommended,” said Jayne Griffith, lead epidemiologist for surveillance at MDH. “Minnesota has an ample supply of the vaccine, and we encourage those at elevated risk to get both doses.”

The Minnesota Department of Health says the risk of contracting mpox can be reduced by "avoiding close, physical contact with those who have mpox symptoms or who have recently been in close contact with someone with mpox." While anyone can contract the infection, national data shows that "gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately impacted."

Monkey Pox Lesions
Getty Images

The symptoms of the illness commonly include a rash that could look like pimples that can appear anywhere on the body and can often cause blisters on the genitals. The health department says the rash may look similar to those associated with syphilis or herpes, particularly when they are found in the genital area. Other potential symptoms include fever, chills, and headaches.

The news release says the sickness often lasts for about 2 to 4 weeks, with the replacement of the scab with new skin signaling complete healing. Most people recover without needing significant medical treatment, but there are cases where serious illness occurs and in rare cases, even death.

Additional information concerning the virus and the illness that causes can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health Mpox website.

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