Suspected Monkeypox-like Infections in Persons Having Contact with Prairie Dogs

  1. 6/09/03
    An extensive multidisciplinary investigation in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana has identified cases of febrile rash illness in persons who had direct or close contact with recently purchased ill prairie dogs. Scientists at the Marshfield clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin, recovered viral isolates from a patient and a prairie dog and demonstrated a virus morphologically consistent with a poxvirus by electron microscopy.

    In the current U.S. outbreak, cases have been reported among residents of Wisconsin (17), northern Illinois (1), and northwestern Indiana (1). Onset of illness among patients began in early May. Patients typically experienced a prodrome consisting of fever, headaches, myalgias, chills, and drenching sweats. Roughly one-third of patients had nonproductive cough.

    For more information, visit
  2. Visit NRSKarenRN profile page

    About NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 27,462; Likes: 13,677
    Utilization Review, prior Intake Mgr Home Care; from PA , US
    Specialty: 40 year(s) of experience in Home Care, Vents, Telemetry, Home infusion


  3. by   meownsmile
    They say the virus was transmitted from the Giant Gambian Rat or something like that to the prarie dogs in the pet shop. Why in gods name would anyone want a RAT as big as a dog living in their home? EWWWWW
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    good grief. why not just get a cat or dog, or even a ferret? this is just stupid.
  5. by   jemb
    When I first heard this on the news, I thought it was a ploy to get more people to volunteer for the smallpox vaccine. The same news segment had a blurb about smallpox vaccine being effective to prevent monkeypox also.
  6. by   OC_An Khe
    I believe they are investigating a case in St Francis Hospital, in Wisconsin in whch a nurse caugth the monkeypox from a patient. Does anyone have a link or know anything about this?
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Posted on Fri, Jun. 13, 2003 Phila. Inquirer

    Tests have begun in Wisconsin. It would be the first known person-to-person transmission in the U.S.
    By Todd Richmond
    Associated Press

    MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin nurse may have contracted monkeypox from a patient in what would be the first known case of the disease spreading from one person to another in the United States, officials said yesterday.

    Wisconsin state epidemiologist Jeff Davis said health officials were testing tissue specimens to confirm whether the unidentified health-care worker was infected with the exotic African virus.

    Until now, health officials investigating the weeklong outbreak in the United States had said that the virus was being spread by pet prairie dogs. But the disease can also be transmitted from one person to another, something that has happened in Africa.

    "In this case there was no animal exposure," Davis said of the health-care worker. "The only contact was with a human."

    Davis would not release other details, but Patrice M. Skonieczny, infection-control coordinator at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee, said the sick worker was a nurse at the hospital.

    Skonieczny said the nurse cared for a Milwaukee pet distributor who was being treated for a possible case of monkeypox. The nurse wore a mask, gloves and a gown when treating the patient, Skonieczny said.

    Last weekend, several days after caring for the patient, the nurse developed flulike symptoms and a rash, but they "kind of faded away in a couple of days," Skonieczny said. The nurse has stayed home since developing the symptoms, she added.

    Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they were looking into the report of human-to-human transmission.

    "The issue right now is it's still early - we have not completed testing," CDC spokesman Llelwyn Grant said.

    Herb Bostrom, director of the state Bureau of Communicable Diseases, suggested that the finding was not necessarily reason for alarm.

    Monkeypox "spreads much more readily from animals to humans than it does from human to human," Bostrom said. "You're not going to get it from somebody sitting on the bus or walking down the hall."

    As of yesterday, U.S. health officials had confirmed a total of 12 human cases of the disease: four each in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Also, 54 possible cases had been reported - 25 in Indiana, 17 in Wisconsin, 11 in Illinois, and one in New Jersey.

    No one has died from the disease in the United States.

    Davis said the animals appeared to be infecting people through bites, or when people touch discharges from the prairie dogs and then rub their eyes or noses.

    Monkeypox, a disease never before seen in the Western Hemisphere, is related to smallpox but is not as lethal. It causes pus-filled blisters, rashes, chills and fever.

    Federal health officials have traced the outbreak to prairie dogs distributed by Phil's Pocket Pets of Villa Park, Ill. The prairie dogs were apparently infected at the business by a Gambian giant rat, officials said.
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    From Phila. inquirer 5/12/02:

    It banned sales of prairie dogs, which have spread the disease, and advised smallpox shots for some.(
    By Daniel Yee, Associated Press, 06/12/2003 03:01 AM EDT

    The U.S. government banned the sale of prairie dogs, prohibited the importation of African rodents, and recommended smallpox shots yesterday for people exposed to monkeypox, the exotic African disease that has spread from pet prairie dogs to humans....

    ...Monkeypox, which produces pus-filled blisters, fever, rash, chills and aches, is a milder relative of smallpox. It has a mortality rate of 1 percent to 10 percent in Africa, but U.S. officials believe better nutrition and medical treatment here probably will prevent deaths.

    Full story:
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 14, '03
  9. by   Audreyfay
    The disease was not transmitted person to person as of yet. They thought it might have been, but it wasn't. Let me tell you, it certainly has a lot of people worried. Think of the grade school field trip that went to a large pet store for an experience! Gosh, getting lots of calls on telephone triage nurse line regarding this!
    If you haven't seen clips of what the rash looks like, it's pretty bad. Looks like smallpox.
  10. by   OC_An Khe
    Thanks nrskaren for the links, and all your work
  11. by   HoJo
    Does the small pox vaccine actually decrease the risk of catching the virus?