Illinois Daycare Worker Tests Positive for Monkeypox, Potentially Exposing Children

A worker at a daycare center in Illinois has tested positive for monkeypox, according to state health officials, who noted that the individual is in isolation and doing well.

Lauri Sanders, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the case, which was identified at an undisclosed child crèche in the village of Rantoul, is the state’s first case linked to a daycare.

Officials said screening of children, other employees, and their close contacts was underway, according to a news release from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) obtained by The News-Gazette.

“There are no other cases at this time, but a complete assessment is being conducted of all adults and children at the facility,” the release said. “If a child that’s enrolled has had a potential exposure, the parent or guardian will be contacted by CUPHD.”

Julie Pryde, director of the CUPHD, said the health department hopes “there are no kid cases.” She also speculated that the worker who developed monkeypox “could have gotten it from a kid.”

The latest exposure is the third monkeypox case so far in Champaign County. The health agency learned of the case on Thursday.

Pryde said CUPHD has enough vaccine doses to administer to anyone connected to the child nursery, if they want to have it, adding that the agency also has access to medication for monkeypox.

Champaign County officials said there is “no indication there is a great risk of extensive local spread of the virus.”

Monkeypox spreads primarily through extended skin-on-skin contact or through contact with contaminated items. Infection may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, there are 602 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Illinois as of Saturday, the fourth-most nationwide. Illinois is also one of six states in the country with more than 500 cases.

Total confirmed cases in the United States stood at 7,510 as of Saturday, data shows. The states with the most monkeypox cases have been identified in New York, with 1,862 cases, and California, with 826 cases.

Monkeypox, a zoonotic infectious disease usually found in parts of Central and West Africa that can also infect humans in rare cases, has been reported in over 88 countries and territories, with over 28,000 infections globally, according to the CDC.

Infections are found to be primarily transmitted through the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men in the United States and around the world, but some cases have also been reported in women and children.

On Thursday, the Biden administration declared a public health emergency for monkeypox in a bid to unlock funding and more powers to deal with the virus.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued the declaration, saying in an Aug. 4 conference call with reporters that the move will allow for quicker distribution of the monkeypox vaccine.

Additionally, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who join Becerra on the call, said the public health declaration will also provide more “access to resources” and will “enable personnel to be deployed to the outbreak” in some localities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.