Las Vegas Strip Could Be Source of Monkeypox Virus Found in Vegas Wastewater

Monkeypox virus is being detected in wastewater coming from the Las Vegas Strip and from at least one treatment plant in the region. There are now 23 probable and confirmed cases of the communicable illness in Clark County residents, according to the local health district.

One monkeypox patient, Matt Ford, shows monkeypox rash, pictured above. The Los Angles resident is urging those at risk to get the vaccine and is criticizing CDC response. (Image: TikTok)

The wastewater includes water flowing from casinos and hotels located on the Strip and other locations in the region. It may come from toilets, sinks or showers.

It is not known, if the detected virus in the wastewater came from locals, workers or tourists.

The virus is likely inactive when it enters the wastewater, Edwin Oh, a professor at the UNLV Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, confirmed to

Infected people excrete viral DNA through skin lesions, saliva, feces, and urine, Oh said. That is how it eventually winds up in the wastewater.

He noted the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) reports 23 probable/likely infections of monkeypox. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday there were 14 infected individuals in the entire state of Nevada. The local data has yet to reach the CDC.

The viral levels are currently low from our readings, suggesting that high transmission is not occurring in Las Vegas,” Oh added. “Because infected individuals (who may be asymptomatic or symptomatic) will shed the virus, the actual number of infected people may be higher than the reported numbers.”

Stephanie Bethel, a spokesperson for the SNHD, told, “It is not unexpected that diseases circulating in the community, including monkeypox, are detected in wastewater.”

There is a limited supply of a vaccine for the virus. Some 400 people in the region so far received the monkeypox vaccine in the past week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported citing data from SNHD officials. The vaccine, known as Jynneos, is given to those most at risk for getting the virus.

We are providing information to the public about the symptoms of monkeypox and steps they can take to protect themselves and others,” Bethel said. “We are also offering appointments to those who are most at risk and will expand availability of the vaccine when more resources become available.”

Monkeypox Transmission, Symptoms

Monkeypox typically comes from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Monkeypox can be transmitted through sexual contact, too. It can be painful and occasionally is fatal.

Monkeypox PSA

— Matt Ford (@JMatthiasFord) June 27, 2022

Often, it begins with a flu-like illness, then a rash appears. Among its symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and chills, the SNHD said. The rash looks like pimple- or fluid-filled blisters on the hands, feet, chest, face, genitals, or inside the body including the mouth, vagina or anus, the health district adds.

It often takes about seven to 14 days after exposure to develop monkeypox. Monkeypox typically lasts for two to four weeks.

Public health officials are monitoring the virus locally and nationally.

The current numbers in the US have been growing at a high rate over the last two months,” Oh said. “Our goal is to be vigilant and track this virus before it leads to an explosion in infections.”

Anyone who has symptoms needs to contact a health professional, Oh firmly advises.

San Francisco, New York City Cases

Last week, San Francisco announced a public health emergency because of the increasing number of cases of monkeypox. Then, on Saturday, New York City also announced there was a public health emergency due to the virus.

New York City is now being called the “epicenter” of the monkeypox outbreak. Up to 150,000 New York City residents could be at risk of exposure to the virus, news reports said. As of Tuesday, there are 1,512 cases in New York City, according to health department data.

As in Nevada, New York CDC data lags behind data released by local health departments. The CDC reports New York State has 1,390 cases. California has 827 cases. Nationally, there are 5,811 monkeypox cases, the CDC reported.

Monkeypox was seen in Africa for decades. Since May, there have been close to 24,000 monkeypox cases found in some 80 countries.

In total, monkeypox has led to 75 deaths in Nigeria, Congo and elsewhere in Africa, as well as in Brazil, India and Spain. The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.

The current monkeypox outbreak comes after the much larger pandemic caused by COVID-19. It led to the shuttering of casinos in Nevada.

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