The state Department of Health today has identified a third probable case of monkeypox in Hawaii, but because the patient has no travel history connected to the disease, officials said it is likely spreading locally.
Health Department officials announced the latest monkeypox case in an adult on Oahu during a virtual news conference today.
“This person does not have a travel history. The reason that’s significant is that it tells us that monkeypox is probably in our community,” said state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char during the news conference.
There is currently no known connection between the latest case and the first two cases on Oahu, although an investigation is ongoing.
The first two people in Hawaii with monkeypox in this latest outbreak were Hawaii residents on Oahu who had close contact with each other. In the first case, reported by the department Friday, an individual had recently traveled to an area with confirmed cases.
The latest case has not resulted in a hospitalization. So far, only the first person with monkeypox in Hawaii has had to be hospitalized at Tripler Army Medical Center. All three have been adults on Oahu.
Health department leaders said that the spread of monkeypox continues to be low in Hawaii for most residents because it is spread primarily through close contact.
“That’s really where the highest risk is — it’s when someone with an infection has contact with another person,” Char said.
The virus causing the disease can also be spread through droplets, so face masks can be helpful in prevention, she added.
Contact tracing is ongoing for the cases, but it’s a lengthy process because the incubation period for monkeypox can be as long as 21 days, officials said.
“Just think back on 21 days, how many contacts you’ve had, how many people you may have kissed or have had contact with,” said DOH epidemiological specialist Joe Elm during the news conference. “It takes time to do all these interviews. We’ve just got started, and we have a lot of people working on it.”