Two are Oahu residents, while the third is a non-resident diagnosed on Kauai and associated with travel outside of Hawaii. The Department of Health has established a connection to a previously reported case of an Oahu resident, and it is investigating the possible connections of the second resident of Oahu.
“Cases of monkeypox continue to increase across the country — and we expect to see more cases in Hawaii,” state deputy epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan said in a press release. “We continue to take action to support individuals diagnosed with monkeypox, conduct contact tracing, vaccinate close contacts and those at high risk, and educate the community.”
The first case was reported in Hawaii on June 3 in an adult Oahu resident who had recently traveled to an area with confirmed cases of monkeypox.
The Department of Health said the risk to most Hawaiians remains low.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Infection often begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin area, often followed by a rash or sores on the hands, feet, chest, face, or genitals.
However, some people develop a rash first, followed by other symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while others only have the rash.
Individuals generally become ill within 21 days of exposure.
Health officials said most people with monkeypox have mild to moderate illness, but the rashes and sores can be painful and itchy.
The Department of Health said it is using a limited vaccine allocation in Hawaii for Jynneos to vaccinate close contacts of people known to have monkeypox, and for people who may have been at high risk in places or areas where monkeypox is actively spreading. It has pre-positioned the vaccine in all counties and is coordinating distribution and administration.
Health officials said that vaccines are not available through health care providers at this time, but that their availability is expected to increase in the coming weeks and months.
Monkeypox is mainly spread through close and intimate contact with body fluids, rashes, sores, or items used by a person with monkeypox.
Health officials said monkeypox may also be spread through large respiratory droplets, but these droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.
Nationwide, cases of monkeypox continue to grow. To date, the CDC has recorded more than 2,800 confirmed cases of monkeypox and orthopoxvirus throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The Ministry of Health said the current cases are spreading primarily among the social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men across the country. In Hawaii, at least some cases have been reported among gay and bisexual men.
However, anyone who has close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk of contracting it, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox, including flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or a new or unexplained rash or sores, should contact a health care provider immediately.