TRENTON – New Jersey has its first "probable" case of monkeypox, state health officials announced Monday.

The patient has been isolating at home since a PCR test result was returned on June 18, according to the Department of Health.

Jersey City health officials separately confirmed the case with a statement on Twitter, although the state Health Department has not yet confirmed while it awaits testing by the CDC.

They added that they were working alongside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the presence of the rare virus that has been spreading in the U.S. and around the world.

How does monkeypox compare to COVID?

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the New Jersey Health Department, says the virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms followed by an unusual rash, is not the next COVID.

“It is clearly not nearly as contagious. While it can occasionally kill people, most people do quite well with it. It will not cause anywhere near the harm that COVID has caused," he said Monday.

He said the disease is spread “particularly through close contact, and that close contact is often, although it doesn’t have to, be sexual in nature."

He said if your partner has a rash and “you’re not sure about something that doesn’t look right, you shouldn’t be touching their body, you shouldn’t be rubbing skin against skin.”

He said monkeypox is “not something you’re likely to pick up from somebody on a bus or on a train or being near from somebody, in a movie theater or something like that.

How many monkeypox cases have there been?

Since New York’s first confirmed case in May, that state has identified a total of 25 confirmed monkeypox cases as of June 17 — 23 in New York City, one in Sullivan County and one in Westchester County.

Risk to New Jerseyans remains low, according to state health officials on Monday, as monkeypox is rare but can spread through close prolonged contact with an infected person or animal.

In humans, monkeypox symptoms begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion 7−14 days after infection, according to the CDC.

As a precaution, any New Jersey residents who experience flu-like illness with swelling of lymph nodes and rash occurring on the face and body should contact their healthcare provider.

Exposure includes contact with skin lesions, or body fluids, sharing clothes or other materials that have been used by someone who is infectious, or inhaling respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.

A U.S. resident tested positive for monkeypox on May 18 after returning to the U.S. from Canada.

Since then, there have been monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases reported in 20 states and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC.

David Matthau contributed to this story.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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