Hurricane Preparedness and Your Pet

When you are making a plan and building your kit, be sure to include your pets and plan for their safety during an emergency.

Make a plan for your pet.

  • Find out ahead of time if public shelters and hotels in your area accept pets. Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets, but service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed.
  • Assign a family member to be responsible for your pet’s needs in an emergency. Talk with your neighbors, family and friends about taking care of your pets or getting them to safety if your family is not able to.
  • Get your pet microchipped and have copies of vaccine records with your current address and phone number. Include an emergency contact such as a relative of friend outside your local area. Include a copy of your pet’s registration information.
  •  Take a photo of yourself with your pet to help you prove ownership and identify your pet in case you are separated. Keep contact information of your local animal control office and shelters in case they find your pet.
  • Include your pets in family evacuation drills to make sure they get used to calmly getting into a crate or carrier.

Build a kit for your pet that includes the following:

  • Food and water: Include food and water for several days in your kit. Make sure the food container is airtight and waterproof. Don’t forget bowls.
  • Medicine: Keep extra medicine that your pet takes regularly. Keep it in an airtight container.
  • First aid supplies: Have items on hand that are specific to your pet’s needs. 
  • Collar, ID tag, leash or harness: Keep a backup collar and leash in your kit along with an ID tag that has current contact information.
  • Crate or carrier: Have a separate carrier for each pet, if possible.
  • Grooming items: Put shampoo and other items you use to clean your pet into your kit.
  • Sanitation items: Pet waste bags, litter and a litter box are items to include in your kit.
  • Comfort items: Toys, treats and bedding that help your pet feel more comfortable and help reduce stress are a good idea to include in your kit.

Large animals and livestock:

  • Large animals: Consider evacuating large animals and move them sooner rather than later.
  • If possible, move livestock to higher ground. If you use a horse trailer, move the animals as soon as possible.  
  • Make sure you have a second route mapped out in case your original route is blocked or backed up.
  • Make sure the place you plan to take your animals has food, water, veterinary care and equipment to handle the animals.
  • If you cannot evacuate the animals, you must decide whether to move them to a barn or turn them loose outside.

For additional information on how to care for pets and other animals during and after a storm, visit the following sites:
American Humane
ASPCA
American Red Cross 

 

VDH Urges Caution In Advance of Severe Weather

RICHMOND, VA — The remnants of Tropical Storm Ian are expected to impact areas of the state beginning Friday, September 30 through the weekend. This storm could create dangerous conditions in creeks, rivers, and low lying areas along the coast. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds people to take precautions to be prepared for severe weather and once the sun comes out, be aware of potential health risks before you participate in recreational water activities.

“I encourage everyone, especially those with travel plans, to pay close attention to storm updates, plan appropriately, and take proper precautions as the storm arrives,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Be safe; stay safe.”

Heavy rains can increase the risk of animal waste and the potential release of inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Bacteria, debris, and other pollutants in rainwater runoff end up in rivers, lakes and streams, which can pose risks to human health and safety. Rain events also cause flooding and fast-moving waters, especially in low-lying areas.

The most common illnesses from contaminated water are gastrointestinal illnesses. These illnesses may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever and are a result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing microbiological organisms. Additionally, contact with contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) and skin infections.

VDH recommends avoiding swimming in fast-moving water as there is a drowning risk. Boaters, kayakers, canoeists, etc. face an elevated risk in high waters and should not try to navigate in fast-moving waters.

VDH recommends the following safety tips for people planning to swim, wade, kayak, canoe or go rafting in Virginia natural waters after heavy rains:

  • Everyone should wear a life vest at all times on the water.
  • Avoid getting water in your mouth. Never swallow water from an untreated water source.
  • Don’t swim if you have broken skin. Bacteria, viruses and other organisms can infect wounds causing more serious illness.
  • Shower with soap and water after recreating in natural waters.
  • Don’t swim when you are ill.
  • Avoid swimming if dead fish are present.
  • Use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary risks if you encounter covered roads or fast-moving waters. The water may be deeper and moving faster than you think.

Residents or facilities that provide water to the public including campgrounds, restaurants, or daycares with private wells or septic systems submerged by flood waters should also take extra precautions.

For more information and safety tips regarding private wells and septic systems visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/responding-to-an-emergency-affecting-your-private-well/.

To contact your local health department, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/ or call 877-ASK-VDH3 (1-877-275-8343).

To contact your local health department, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

For more information regarding recreation water safety tips, including the Virginia Department of Health’s “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” brochure, visit: www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

World Rabies Day, September 28, 2022

Rabies is a virus that is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes.  It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s important to take some basic precautions to help protect you and your pets from being infected.  Remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to keep their vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal.  Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the wildlife exposure. 
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.  
  • Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
  • Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
  • Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands. 
  • Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.

VDH Further Expands Eligibility for Those Seeking Monkeypox Vaccination

Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a further expansion of eligibility for JYNNEOS, the monkeypox vaccine. Newly eligible for vaccination in Virginia are persons of any gender or sexual orientation living with HIV/AIDS or who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

“VDH is taking this step to expand eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine to ensure as many people at high risk of contracting this disease who want to get vaccinated can do so if they choose,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Maximizing effectiveness of prevention and treatment against monkeypox now is our best chance to keep it from becoming entrenched in the United States.”

In Virginia, as of Monday, September 26, there were 464 cases of monkeypox, 249 of those Northern Health Region consisting of the Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Health Districts. Across the state, 21 cases have required hospitalization.

The newly expanded eligibility criteria for vaccination now include additional populations in Virginia. Those who meet one or more of the following are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine:

  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had anonymous or multiple (more than one) sexual partners in the past two weeks; or
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation or gender; or
  • Staff, of any sexual orientation or gender, at establishments or events where sexual activity occurs; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who is living with HIV/AIDS; or
  • Any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months.

Virginia has received a limited supply of JYNNEOS vaccine. If you are eligible, visit your local health district website to learn about how you can access the vaccine. You may use this locator tool to determine which local health district you reside in.

As of September 26, VDH has overseen administration of 9,860 first doses of the two-dose JYNNEOS series and 4,948 second doses.

Monkeypox is a contagious rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus. In most cases, it resolves without treatment. It is spread by close contact with an infected person. Close contact includes touching skin lesions, bodily fluids, or clothing or linens that have been in contact with an infected person. Spread can also occur during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

While anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can catch monkeypox if they have close contact with someone with monkeypox, many of those affected in the current global outbreak are gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. While this level of monkeypox activity is unexpected, the risk to the general population is low. People with monkeypox in the current outbreak generally report having close, sustained contact with other people who have monkeypox.

The highest risk activity currently is having sex with multiple or anonymous partners; avoiding these activities greatly reduces one’s risk of catching or spreading monkeypox. Monkeypox does not spread from person to person from walking past someone who is infected or through casual conversation with someone who is infected. Because we are still learning about the vaccine’s effectiveness in the current outbreak, vaccinated individuals should continue to take steps to protect themselves from infection.

Initial symptoms of the disease often include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by skin lesions. However, some people have a rash without other symptoms. Although the majority of cases don’t require hospitalization, the rash can be painful. If you have a rash that resembles monkeypox, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to get tested. Treatment is available for those at risk of severe illness.

For the latest information about monkeypox from VDH, visit our monkeypox information webpage: www.vdh.virginia.gov/monkeypox/.

Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency

Many people depend on daily medications. Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription medication; 1 in 4 take three or more. A large-scale natural disaster, such as a hurricane, or other emergency could make it difficult to find an open pharmacy let alone get a prescription filled. You and your family may need to rely on a prepared emergency supply. If, for example, you or a loved one rely on daily medication to treat or manage a chronic disease, it is in your best interest to prepare your medicine cabinet for an emergency. Here’s how:

  • Keep at least a 7 to 10-day supply of prescription medications. Keep your medications in labeled, childproof containers.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of all prescription medications, including dosage amounts and the names of their generic equivalents, your medical supply needs, and known allergies.
  • Create a supply of nonprescription medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications.
  • Don’t let the medications in your emergency supply kit expire. Remove, use, and replace any food and water, medications, and supplies before they expire.

Safe storage

In the wrong hands, medicines are dangerous. Too often, the wrong hands belong to kids. About 60,000 children are taken to emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines.The threat of medication poisoning in kids and adults is also there in an emergency evacuation when families are forced from their homes and into a shelter, a hotel, or the home of a friend or family. Under stressful circumstances and in unfamiliar surroundings, people can forget to practice safe medication use and storage. Here are three ways you can prepare for and prevent medication poisoning after a disaster.

  • Keep all prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, including your emergency supply, Up and Away and out of the reach and sight of children and pets—this includes medicines in suitcases, purses, and “grab and go” bags.
  • Create an Emergency Action Plan that includes important contact information, such as phone numbers for your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, veterinarian, and the Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222.
  • Properly dispose of unused, expired, or contaminated medicines in your medicine cabinet and emergency supply. Discard medications that touched floodwater or have changed in appearance or smell. Contact a pharmacist or healthcare provider if you are unsure about a drug’s safety.

Quick Tips

  • Find out if laws in your state permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency.
  • Stay current on your immunizations and vaccinations for infections and illnesses such as tetanus and seasonal flu. Know the date of your last tetanus shot in case of injury in an emergency.
  • Learn more about the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP)
  • The EPAP helps people who live in a federally-declared disaster area and do not have health insurance. Eligible people can receive a free 30-day supply of their medications for as long as EPAP is active. People can also use the program to receive vaccinations or to replace specific medical supplies or some forms of medical equipment that were lost or damaged because of an emergency or while evacuating.

For more Prepare Your Health information, tips, and checklists, visit cdc.gov/prepyourhealth.

Source
Prescriptions: Prepare Your Medicine Cabinet for an Emergency
Ready.gov/September

Additional Resources
Podcast   Preparing for Hurricanes – Prescription Medications 
Complete Care Plan for Loved Ones
Asthma Action Plan
Food Allergies and Disasters
Care for Special Need Children and Youth in an Emergency
Advance Directives for Behavioral Health Individuals

National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month is recognized every September to raise awareness about ways to prepare for emergencies and disasters, either natural or man-made. The 2022 theme, A Lasting Legacy, focuses on the importance of protecting every life by preparing for disasters. Ultimately, these efforts will help us create and preserve a long-lasting legacy.

Keeping this theme in mind, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends four key steps to prepare for and respond to disasters.

  1. Make a plan. 
    • Discuss a shelter plan
    • Have a specified evacuation route
      • Hurricanes are very common in Coastal Virginia, so it’s important to know your evacuation zone if you reside in a high-risk area
    • Decide on how members of the household will best communicate with one another 
    • Prepare an an emergency preparedness kit that includes
      • Water (for drinking and sanitation)
      • Non-perishable food
      • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
      • Flashlight
      • First aid kit
      • Extra batteries
  2. Consider specific needs within your household, such as:
    • Certain ages may require special considerations, such as specified food for infants or necessary medication for elderly family members
    • Dietary restrictions or needs may require certain lower sodium foods or gluten-free items
    • Disabled individuals may require a wheelchair, a cane, or other assistive devices
    • Identify any language barriers that may exist
    • Be cognizant of religious values or beliefs
    • Supplies will be needed for pets or services animals
  3. Fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to creating your own. 
  4. Practice your plan with your friends, family, or household. 

For more information about creating a plan, visit www.ready.gov/plan.

The CDC also recommends planning ahead by staying…

  • Healthy: Know how to protect your safety and wellness.
  • Connected: Discuss ways to communicate with family, friends, and caregivers.
  • Calm: Practice ways to stay cool, calm, and collected during emergency situations.
  • Informed: Find reliable sources of health and emergency information.

Once you finish planning, it’s time to take action. Make sure to remember your…

  • Personal needs: Gather enough food, water, and medical supplies to last at least three days.
  • Prescriptions: Talk to your doctor about creating an emergency supply of prescription and necessary over-the-counter medications
  • Practical skills: Learn self-help and life-saving skills to use during an emergency.
  • Power sources: Prepare for power outages with backup power sources.
  • Paperwork: Collect and protect important documents and medical records.

 

Sources and Resources:
www.ready.gov/september
www.ready.gov/plan
www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/takeaction
www.vaemergency.gov/know-your-zone

Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory Expanded for Lake Anna

Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory Expanded for Lake Anna to north of Route 208;
In Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania Counties

Public Advised to Avoid Water Contact with Upper, Middle and Lower sections of Lake Anna above Rt. 208

RICHMOND, Va. – All portions of Pamunkey Branch, North Anna Branch, Lake Anna State Park Beach, as well as the Main Branch of Lake Anna from the “Splits” to the confluence of Pigeon Run above Route 208 in Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania counties are experiencing a harmful algae bloom (HAB). The public is advised to avoid contact with specific areas of the lake until algae concentrations return to acceptable levels.

Some harmful algae, called cyanobacteria, can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The area to avoid can be seen on an interactive Harmful Algal Bloom map. A status report containing the updated advisory areas may be viewed at Lake Anna HAB Status Report 8.8.22.

Samples results from collections on August 2 indicated that at eight locations in the North Anna, Pamunkey Branches, and at Lake Anna State Park, swimming advisories are necessary due to unsafe levels of cyanobacteria, which have the potential to produce toxins. People and pets are advised to avoid swimming, windsurfing and stand-up-paddle-boarding, as well as other activities that pose a risk of ingesting water. Activities such as boating may continue with proper precaution in advisory areas. Follow-up monitoring above Route. 208 on the lake is planned (weather permitting) for the first week of September.

Swimming advisories have been issued for the following areas of the lake:

Pamunkey Branch (contains changes from prior advisory, “Lower” added)

  • Upper – From the upper inundated waters of the Pamunkey arm of the lake downstream to the confluence with Terry’s Run
  • Middle – From the confluence of Terry’s Run with Pamunkey Creek downstream to Rt. 612 (Stubbs Bridge)
  • Terrys Run – from the upper inundated waters of the lake downstream to the confluence with Pamunkey Creek
  • NEW – Lower from the Rt 612 (Stubbs Bridge) downstream to near the confluence with North Anna (at the “Splits”), including the Lake Anna State Park Beach”

North Anna Branch (contains changes from prior advisory, “Lower” added)

  • Upper – From the upper inundated waters of the North Anna arm of the lake downstream to the Rt. 522 Bridge
  • Middle – From the Rt. 522 Bridge downstream to the Lumsden Flats/Rose Valley Cove
  • NEW – Lower from the Lumsden Flats/Rose Valley cove downstream to just before the confluence with Pamunkey Branch (at the “Splits”)

Lake Anna (Main Branch)

  • NEW – Upper from the confluence with the North Anna Branch & Pamunkey Branch (at the “Splits”) downstream to above the confluence with Pigeon Run (tributary along State Park)

Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless, however, some species may produce irritating compounds or toxins. Avoid discolored water or scums that are green or bluish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.

To prevent illness, people should:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the lake where water is green or an advisory sign is posted, WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY OUT!
  • Not allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
  • Keep children and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algae bloom and quickly wash them off with plenty of fresh, clean water after coming into contact with algae scum or bloom water.
  • Seek medical/veterinarian care if you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom.
  • Properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs, and cooking fish to the proper temperature to ensure fish filets are safe to eat.
  • Contact the Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154 if you suspect you experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom. Please do not call this number for map or status updates.
  • Visit SwimHealthyVA.com to learn more about harmful algae blooms or to report an algae bloom or fish kill.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, which includes the VDH, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Old Dominion University Phytoplankton Laboratory, will continue to monitor water quality in the lake. In general, advisories will be lifted following two consecutive test results with acceptable levels for algal cell counts and toxin concentrations. An advisory may be lifted or maintained at the discretion of the health department. For example, after one test an advisory may be lifted if results are within safe levels for swimming if other information indicates exposure or human health risk is low.

For more information visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

Grilling Safety: Tips on How to Prevent Injury


backyard with a grill and table

Number of fires caused by grills

While grilling can be a fun summer activity, precautions must be taken to prevent bodily injury, as well as property damage and destruction. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an annual average of 10,600 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues resulted in nearly a dozen deaths, 160 injuries, and approximately $150 million in direct property damage. These statistics are due to a number of factors, including leaving the equipment unattended among others. (See Figure 1).

Figure 1.  Home grill fires by leading factors contributing to ignition 2014-2018


Note. This graph was produced by M. Ahrens in 2020, depicting the common factors of fires.

The following preventative actions are recommended to decrease the risk of fires.

Grill Placement and Usage: 

  • Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors and place the grill at least three feet away from the home, deck railings, and out from underneath leaves and overhanging branches. 
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill. 
  • Pay particular attention to loose clothing and dangling jewelry which may present a hazard.

Propane Grills:

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year – you can do this by applying soap and water to the hose and checking for bubbles. If there are bubbles or a propane smell, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop or if you smell gas while cooking, do not attempt to move the grill, immediately move away from it, and call 911 (Ahrens, 2020). 

If you find there are no gas leaks prior to lighting the grill, open the lid and check for any hidden nests, hives, or animals. It is good practice to thoroughly clean the grill to remove any excess grease before and after use. While cooking, remember to never leave the grill unattended. Once you are done, clean the grill each use to remove fat and grease that can start a fire (FEMA). Since propane gas is heavier than air, it will sink closer to the ground and can enter your home through doors, windows, and dryer vents. Never store the cylinder near these entry points. Also, make sure the propane tank is stored upright on a flat surface so that it can’t roll or tip over.

Charcoal Grills:

Only use a starter fluid designated for charcoal. Once you’re finished grilling, ensure that the charcoal and ashes are completely cooled by leaving the lid closed for 48 hours. For a faster process, douse the embers with water. After 48 hours, place the cooled ashes in a metal container or wrap them in foil before putting them in the garbage (Lam, 2020). 

Food Safety in Grilling:

 In addition to the dangers of suffering physical injury from improper outdoor cooking, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates there are approximately 48 million cases of food poisoning each year of which grilling plays a significant part.  It is important to pay particular attention to the temperature of your food before, during, and after its preparation.

  • Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep food below 40°F in an insulated cooler. 
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked hot enough to kill germs.  (see Figure 2 for safe minimum internal temperatures). 
  • When using a BBQ smoker, monitor the air temperature within the smoker to be sure the heat stays between 225°F and 300°F throughout the cooking process. This will ensure the meat is fully cooked. 

Figure 2.  Correct temperature to grill different types of meat

Note. This graph was produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2020, to show the right temperature to cook meat to ensure food safety.

145°F Whole cuts of beef, pork, or lamb (let rest 3 minutes before serving)
145°F Fish (whole or fillet)
160°F Hamburgers, sausage, and other ground beef, pork, or lamb
165°F Chicken, turkey, and other poultry

 

References:

Ahrens, M. (2020, May). Home grill fires – NFPA. Retrieved July 7, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food Safety. Retrieved July 7, 2022.

FEMA. Grilling Fire Safety Flyer – U.S. Fire Administration. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from 

Lam, D. (2021, July 2). Backyard grilling seems safe, until it isn’t. NPR. Retrieved July 7, 2022, 

 

Virginia Reports Additional Presumed Cases of Monkeypox 

(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.

For more information, visit the VDH websiteCDC website, and the World Health Organization website.