(Richmond, VA) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced five additional presumed monkeypox cases in Virginia residents, bringing the total number of monkeypox cases reported in Virginia to eight since May 2022. Testing was conducted at the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services.
Multiple countries, including the United States, are currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak. To date, most, but not all, cases have occurred in persons who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM). Few hospitalizations and one death have been reported globally in this outbreak thus far. As of June 28, CDC had reported 4,769 cases of monkeypox identified in 49 countries; 306 cases were reported in the United States.
The new cases are adult male residents of the northern (3), eastern (1) and southwestern (1) regions of Virginia who were exposed to other people with monkeypox. The Virginia patients are currently isolating. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided. The health department is identifying and monitoring the patients’ close contacts.
Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness, characterized by a specific type of rash. Rash lesions can begin on the genitals, perianal region, or oral cavity and might be the first or only sign of illness. Co-infection with sexually transmitted infections have been reported. Some patients also have fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and/or swelling of the lymph nodes before developing a rash. Symptoms generally appear six to 14 days after exposure and, for most people, clear up within two to four weeks. Person-to-person spread occurs with close contact or with direct contact with body fluids or contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or linens.
Although there is no approved treatment for monkeypox in the U.S., some treatment options may be beneficial. As with many viral illnesses, treatment mainly involves supportive care and relief of symptoms. For patients who have severe illness or are at high risk of developing severe illness, treatments can be accessed through the federal government with VDH coordination. Two vaccines are also available through the federal government as postexposure prophylaxis for people who had close contact with a person with monkeypox and are at highest risk of exposure.
If you have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider immediately, especially if you are in one of the following groups:
- Those who have had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox
- Those who have had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men
- Those who traveled to places or attended events where monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the month before symptoms appeared
- Those who have had contact with household items, such as towels, bedding or clothing, used by a person with suspected or known orthopox or monkeypox virus infection
- Those who have had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet from Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
If you need to seek care, call your healthcare provider first. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed. Healthcare providers are reminded to report any suspected cases of monkeypox to their local health department as soon as possible and implement appropriate infection prevention precautions.
The federal government is expanding monkeypox vaccination access for individuals at risk and working to make testing more convenient for healthcare providers and patients across the country. VDH is actively working with our federal partners to make these services more accessible for Virginians.