Monkeypox

  • For healthcare providers, please visit VDH’s Monkeypox website for Healthcare Providers 

    2022 Outbreak information

    Monkeypox is a rash illness caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same group of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox is rare in the United States. The disease has been most commonly reported in people living in or traveling to certain central and west African countries. The first confirmed U.S. case in this outbreak was announced on May 18, 2022. Since that date, additional cases have been identified in the U.S. Cases have also been identified in other countries where the disease has not usually been found. Public health officials are investigating how these people became infected. Most, but not all cases, have been identified among people who self-identify as men who have sex with men (MSM). It is not clear how people in those clusters were initially exposed to the monkeypox virus. Anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone infected with the virus. At this time, the risk of infection to the public is considered to be low.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are taking steps to respond to this emerging situation. 

    • On May 20, 2022, CDC issued a health alert network (HAN) health advisory to raise awareness among healthcare providers, public health officials, and the public. On June 13, CDC issued another HAN health update to describe clinical presentations of monkeypox seen so far in the United States. CDC also provided updated and expanded case definitions intended to encourage testing for monkeypox among persons presenting for care with relevant history, signs, and symptoms. 
    • VDH initially alerted healthcare providers in Virginia about this situation on May 20 through a Clinician Letter. VDH advised healthcare providers to report suspected cases immediately to their local health department. On June 14, VDH shared additional information on the clinical presentation, testing, treatment, and postexposure prophylaxis with providers through another Clinician Letter. On June 24, VDH reminded providers about the importance of recognizing and reporting suspected cases and available resources in another Clinician Letter.
    • On May 27, 2022, CDC confirmed monkeypox in an adult female resident of the Northern region of Virginia. She had recent international travel to an African country where the disease is known to occur and was not infectious during travel. Since then, other cases in Virginia have been identified.
    • VDH investigates any reported suspect case and supports laboratory testing through the Virginia state public health laboratory (Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services) and the CDC. VDH approval is required before sending any specimens to DCLS or CDC. 
    • As additional monkeypox cases are identified in Virginia, VDH will work to isolate the patient, identify close contacts, and, if needed, coordinate antiviral treatment.
    • For all reported close contacts of monkeypox cases, VDH will monitor their health for 21 days after their last exposure to a case and, if needed, will coordinate vaccination for high-risk contacts.

Virginia 2022 Outbreak Data

Monkeypox and Orthopoxvirus Cases by Region*

*Data as of July 1, 2022. The Virginia Department of Health updates these data by 10:00 a.m. on business days based on data entered by 5:00 p.m. the prior day. All data are preliminary and subject to change based on additional reporting. Cases include confirmed (monkeypox) and probable (orthopoxvirus) cases using the CDC monkeypox case definition

Monkeypox Basics

Monkeypox infects animals and humans. The animal reservoir (main disease carrier) is still unknown. African rodents are suspected to play a role. People can be infected with monkeypox when they come into contact with the virus from an infected person, animal, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus spreads from person to person through close contact. This includes direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids, or contact with contaminated clothing or linens. Spread can also occur through respiratory droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

Symptoms of monkeypox in people usually start with fever, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Lymph nodes might become swollen. After a few days, a distinctive rash typically begins on the face and then spreads over other parts of the body. In the current outbreak, some patients have had oral, genital, or perianal (around the anus) lesions without fever or other symptoms. In these situations, the monkeypox rash could look like a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Illness typically lasts 2–4 weeks.

More Information

Key monkeypox resources are listed below. 

Last updated: July 1, 2022