Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District Update on Monkeypox

August 23, 2022

Media Contact: April Achter; april.achter@vdh.virginia.gov

Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District Update on Monkeypox
Vaccine Now Available in Limited Supply

(Warrenton, Va.)— Monkeypox virus (MPV) infection can cause an illness that includes rashes and other flu-like symptoms.  It does not commonly occur in the United States, but the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (RRHD) are responding to an outbreak of cases in the United States.  Although it is good to stay up-to-date on emerging public health outbreaks, the current community risk is low.

Most cases of monkeypox associated with this outbreak have been identified in gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM), yet anyone can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone infected with the virus.  In the current outbreak, hospitalization and death from monkeypox are rare, but symptoms can still be painful and interfere with daily activities.  Symptoms can last for two to four weeks.

Monkeypox usually starts with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within one to three days, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox can be spread through

  • Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
  • Sharing utensils, cups, towels or unwashed clothing
  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox); close contact exposure is defined as being within six feet for more than three hours

Monkeypox is NOT spread through:

  • Casual brief conversations
  • Walking by someone with monkeypox (passing in a store)

If you have a new or an unexplained rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox, avoid crowds and close contact with others, and seek medical care for further evaluation and testing.

Monkeypox vaccine is now available in RRHD.  Our staff are trained to administer both types of vaccine authorized to prevent monkeypox.  We have a very limited supply, and are working to ensure that residents who have been exposed or are at high risk of being exposed to monkeypox receive a vaccination.  If you are interested in obtaining monkeypox vaccination, please call the RRHD Hotline at 540-308-6072.

For more information on monkeypox in Virginia, please visit the VDH monkeypox website. If you are a healthcare provider, visit the monkeypox website for healthcare providers.

For more information about the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, visit rrhd.org.