Skip to contents
Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Monkeypox Case Reported In Cook County Jail Detainee

Representatives from the city's health department will go to the jail to provide education, testing and vaccinations for eligible people.

The Cook County Department of Corrections in the Little Village neighborhood on April 11, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — A detained person at Cook County Jail has been diagnosed with monkeypox, the first time a case has been reported at the jail, officials said Tuesday.

The person with monkeypox has been isolated, and contact tracing is being done, according to a news release from the county’s health department and the Sheriff’s Office.

More than 200 monkeypox cases have been reported in Chicago, but officials have said there are likely many more they have gone undiagnosed. The disease is rarely fatal, but it is accompanied by a sometimes extremely painful and contagious rash.

“It is reasonable to expect cases to appear within the jail,” according to the agencies. “The individual is believed to have contracted the virus in the community prior to being ordered into custody at the jail.”

Representatives from the Chicago Department of Public Health will go to the jail on Tuesday to provide education, testing and vaccinations for eligible people, according to the agencies.

RELATED: 15,000 More Monkeypox Vaccines Are Coming To Chicago. Here’s Who Can Get Vaccinated And How To Stay Safe

How Monkeypox Spreads

The monkeypox virus can spread through person-to-person contact, officials said. Anyone can get monkeypox.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox can spread through:

  • Someone coming into direct contact with a person’s infectious rash, scabs or body fluids.
  • Someone coming into contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, including through kissing, cuddling and sex.
  • Someone touching items — including clothing or linens — that previously touched a person’s infectious rash or body fluids.
  • A fetus can be infected if a pregnant person gets monkeypox.

Infected animals can also spread monkeypox to people in a variety of scenarios. For example, an infected animal could scratch or bite a person, or a person could eat an infected animal’s meat or products, according to the CDC.

Monkeypox can spread from the time an infected person shows symptoms until their rash has healed and they no longer show symptoms, according to the CDC. People who don’t have symptoms can’t spread the virus.

Symptoms Of Monkeypox

The defining symptom of monkeypox is a rash that can take several weeks to heal and can go through stages as it heals, experts said.

The rash might look like pimples or blisters that can appear on a person’s face, face, hands, chest, genitals or anus, according to the CDC and experts.

The rash can also be internal, making it difficult for people to go to the bathroom, eat or drink, said David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health.

Some people may only experience the rash, while others will develop other symptoms, experts said. Other symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes, including in the neck and groin
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion and malaise

Anyone with symptoms should seek medical care to get tested, experts said.

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Monkeypox?

People who think they have monkeypox should isolate from others, limit skin-to-skin contact with other people and be careful not to share bedding, towels or other linens, Munar said.

Anyone who has a new, unexplained rash should avoid sex or being intimate until they’ve been checked out by a medical professional, said health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

People who think they have monkeypox should seek medical care to get tested.

Go to a health care provider to get tested for monkeypox. Tests are not available over the counter.

People who don’t have a health care provider can call the city health department at 312-746-4835 to get connected to care, Arwady said.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: