Louisiana's first detected cases of monkeypox have been found in a state resident and a visitor from out of state, the Louisiana Department of Health reported Thursday.
"There are likely more undiagnosed human cases of monkeypox existing in Louisiana than have been formally tested and identified to date," a news release said.
The Louisiana resident lives in the area made up of Orleans, Plaquemines, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes, the news release said.
No additional information — including whether the state resident had any contact with the visitor, or where the visitor went in Louisiana — will be released to protect patient privacy, department spokesperson Michelle McCalope said in an email.
She said the health department is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the patients’ healthcare providers to identify and notify people in Louisiana who may have been in contact with the patients while they were infectious.
The virus had been found in as of Wednesday in at least 605 residents of 35 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC. Thousands of cases have been reported worldwide.
Most monkeypox patients experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. More serious illness may include a rash and lesions.
The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals.
Among people, it can spread through direct contact with an infected person's rash, sores or body fluids, as well as by touching clothing or bedding that has touched them, according to the CDC.
The agency says it can also spread via "respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex."
People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others, according to the CDC.