First monkeypox cases reported, Minnesota officials emphasize vaccinations

The first monkeypox cases since 2022 have been reported to health officials in Minnesota, according to an announcement from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

In an announcement Friday, the MDH confirmed two known cases this week, both in adults in Hennepin County.

The last reported case of "mpox" – previously known as monkeypox – in Minnesota was reported in November 2022. Minnesota reported 234 cases that year, according to the announcement.

Health officials say the virus is primarily spread by prolonged close contact, typically skin-to-skin contact, with rash, scabs or body fluids containing the virus, such as that which occurs during sexual activity.

A two-dose vaccination that can significantly decrease the chance of infection and prevent the risk of serious illness is currently available to Minnesotans.

"The JYNNEOS vaccine is an important tool to prevent mpox infection, particularly after receiving two doses, as recommended," said Jayne Griffith, lead epidemiologist for surveillance at MDH. "Minnesota has an ample supply of the vaccine, and we encourage those at elevated risk to get both doses."

National data shows that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately impacted, according to the announcement.

MDH will be working with Hennepin County Public Health and other community partners to help promote and offer vaccinations at a variety of events this summer.