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Health officials on Friday urged Minnesotans to know the signs of monkeypox and understand how the virus spreads, as concern grows about the global outbreak. 

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 21,141 cases have so far been confirmed in 72 countries that have not historically seen the virus.

That includes nearly 5,000 confirmed cases in the United States, where public health experts warn a significant number of cases are likely going undetected.  

"It's extremely important to know that anyone can get monkeypox," said Minnesota state epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield during a press briefing Friday. "This is not a so-called 'gay disease'."

Minnesota has so far recorded 33 confirmed cases of monkeypox, although hundreds of Minnesotans have been vaccinated after reporting exposure to the virus

State health officials say the cases detected so far are in men ages 18-55, with a median age of 37. 

One case has been confirmed in greater Minnesota and the rest of those infected with the virus reside in the Twin Cities metro. 

Lynfield said monkeypox spreads primarily through skin-to-skin contact, but can also be transmitted by respiratory particles or by handling bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox. 

On Friday, Lynfield urged anyone with new skin or mucosal lesions to seek testing for monkeypox, but added it's important to wear a mask when doing so because the virus may spread in respiratory droplets. 

Minnesota is expected to receive an additional 7,600 doses of the Jynneos vaccine over the next four to six weeks. 

The current vaccine supply of 3,000 doses is being provided primarily to high-risk contacts of a person with monkeypox. 

During Friday's briefing, Lynfield urged Minnesotans to take the global outbreak seriously and noted hospitalization rates of around 10-11% on average. 

She also pointed to known potential complications of the virus, such as blindness, myocarditis and life-threatening conditions, including epiglottitis and encephalitis. 

"I would not minimize the pain," she added. "The pain that some of these patients have is extremely severe." 

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