|June 7, 2003||Monkeypox Information
Executive Order in Response to Orthopox Outbreak
IDPH INVESTIGATES AND RESPONDS TO UNUSUAL ILLNESS IN ILLINOIS
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are investigating unusual illnesses that may be linked to exposure to prairie dogs, gambian rats or other exotic animals.
The CDC notified IDPH Saturday that a tissue sample from an Illinois resident is consistent with a "monkeypox-like" virus, which is a viral disease with symptoms of fever and a vesicular or pustular rash, and swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches.
"The state is aggressively working to notify individuals who may have had exposure to sick prairie dogs in Illinois and to provide these people with guidance," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "The state is working with the CDC, the pet store owner, other state agencies and local health authorities to determine how the animals may have become infected."
The primary spread of the illness appears to be close contact between infected prairie dogs and humans. Signs of illness in prairie dogs include fever, swollen lymph nodes, blisters, conjunctivitis, and eye discharge.
The ill person who had a fever and rash, was not hospitalized and is recovering had close contact with prairie dogs, gambian rats and other exotic animals from Phil's Pocket Pets, a U.S. Department of Agriculture licensed dealer in Villa Park (DuPage County). As a precaution, IDA has prohibited this dealer from selling animals in Illinois, or elsewhere, until the health of such animals and the safety of purchasers can be assured.
The store owner has provided the state with a list of all persons who purchased prairie dogs, gambian rats and other exotic animals since April 15. The Departments of Public Health and Agriculture are working with the Illinois State Police to contact those individuals. IDA also is conducting additional investigations to determine the sources of the animals and what stores purchased these animals.
"Owners of prairie dogs that show signs of illness should not take their animals to a veterinarian," said IDA State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Hull. "No treatment is available for animals with this disease and moving them only will increase the number of people and animals that are exposed to it."
Dr. Hull recommends pet owners isolate and minimize their contact with ill prairie dogs, gambian rats, or any other exotic animal that may have been purchased from this store, and notify the Illinois Department of Agriculture of the sick animal.
As a precaution, residents also should take the following precautions until more information becomes available:
Additional information and recommendations will be released as they become available.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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