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I survived the last US monkeypox outbreak – the warning symptoms to look out for and how to protect yourself


A MONKEYPOX survivor gave insight as the US faces its latest outbreak of the virus.

Cases have been confirmed in the US, United Kingdom, Portugal and Italy while potential cases are being investigated in Canada and Spain.

Not known, clear with picture desk

Dr Kurt Zaeske survived after contracting monkeypox nearly 20 years ago[/caption]

Zaeske believes the public is more prepared for the virus than in 2003
Not known, clear with picture desk

However, nearly 20 years ago, Wisconsin had its own outbreak and these new cases hold painful memories for survivor, Dr Kurt Zaeske.

Back in 2003, he was a veterinarian, who came in contact with the virus from a prairie dog he had been treating.

“Within about 48 hours of my handling that specimen I became ill,” he told WISN.

Zaeske developed lesions similar to chickenpox and suffered from nausea, dizziness and a high fever.

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“I started developing a blister on my thumb that didn’t look right, didn’t act right,” he said back in 2003 after being quarantined for two weeks.

Cases across the state had sprouted up at the time, causing health officials to warn the public. At the time, Dr Seth Foldy was the Milwaukee Health Commissioner.

“Direct contact with the skin lesion of monkeypox can transmit the virus,” he said in 2003.

In the US, 71 cases of monkeypox was reported in 2003 and 39 of those cases were in Wisconsin alone.

Nearly two decades later, there hasn’t been a single case of the virus reported in the state, however, officials said they’re ready if the disease were to return.

“This is not something that’s completely unfamiliar to us. There is a process within the state of Wisconsin and in the Milwaukee Health Department with how you manage the communicable disease, of which monkeypox is one, and we’re prepared to manage it,” said current Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.

Zaeske believes the public is more prepared now compared to 19 years ago.

“We did not know what was going to happen (then),” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Massachusetts. 

A possible case was reported in Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

“We are investigating a possible case of monkeypox in NYC,” read a tweet from the @nycHealthy account.

“Our Public Health Lab will conduct preliminary tests, which – if positive – will be sent to @CDCgov for confirmatory testing.

“The Department’s epidemiologists will follow up with any individual who may have been in contact with the patient while infectious,” read a statement from the Department of Health and Hygiene in the state.


There are two main strains of the virus: the Congo strain, which has a 10 percent mortality rate, and the West African strain which only has a fatality rate of one percent.

Spots often start on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, experts say.

The disease is a viral infection, similar to smallpox but milder.

The rash affects the face mostly (95 percent of cases) and hands (75 percent), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the illness, the rash changes from raised red bumps, to spots filled with fluid. 

The spots eventually erupt and form scabs which later fall off.

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The infection causes two periods of illness. In the first phase, up to five days, patients can suffer:

  • A high temperature – 38C or above.
  • A headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen glands
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

Cases have been reported in multiple states[/caption]


Health officials are telling the public to watch out for unfamiliar sores or rashes[/caption]

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