Since May, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported eight presumed cases of monkeypox in the state, with one case reported in the southwestern region.
The VDH website states that monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness that belongs to the same virus group as smallpox. Originally found in laboratory monkeys in 1958, the virus has also been found in different kinds of rodents and primates in Africa.
“The monkeypox virus can spread to people when they are bitten by an animal infected with monkeypox or when they touch the blood, body fluids, or lesions on an infected animal or person,” the website stated.
The virus also can be transmitted from one person to another “by large respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact.” In rare occasions, monkeypox is spread from person to person through close contact or the touching of body fluids of an infected individual.
The VDH noted that “objects, such as bedding or clothing, contaminated with the virus can also spread the monkeypox virus.”
In a recent release, it was reported that most, but not all, of the confirmed cases were those who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who engage in sexual intercourse with other men.
Monkeypox is characterized by a specific type of raised, blister-like rash that develops on the tongue and in the mouth and on the body. “The blisters go through several stages before they get crusty, scab over, and fall off. People with monkeypox are contagious until all lesions have scabbed over and have fallen off the person’s skin,” the website stated.
Other symptoms listed by the VDH can include fever, headache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a cough. “Symptoms usually appear six to 14 days after exposure and, for the most part, clear up within two to four weeks,” a release stated.
There is currently no approved treatment for monkeypox in the United States, but supportive care and relief of symptoms may be beneficial. Treatments can be accessed through the federal government with VDH coordination for those who have severe illness or are at a high risk of developing severe illness.
“Two vaccines are also available through the federal government as postexposure prophylaxis for people who had close contact with a person who had monkeypox and are at highest risk of exposure,” the release stated.
Monkeypox vaccination access and testing are being expanded by the federal government for patients and those who are at risk of being infected.
Those with concerns about monkeypox are encouraged to contact their local healthcare provider or local health department.
As of June 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 4,769 cases of monkeypox in 49 countries, with 306 in the United States. Few hospitalizations and one death have been reported globally in this outbreak.
For more information, go to www.vdh.virginia.gov, www.cdc.gov, or www.who.int.