Monkeypox Update from the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is an illness caused by the monkeypox virus. Common symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash may be on the face, the inside of the mouth, hands, feet, chest, or genital area. Symptoms are usually mild or moderate and typically resolve within two to four weeks. Monkeypox is rarely fatal.
Who is at risk?
Right now, the general risk of getting infected with monkeypox is relatively low. However, data suggests certain people are at higher risk. This includes individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has the monkeypox virus, some people in certain groups, such as men who report sex with men, and those who work with high-risk groups.
How does Monkeypox spread and what are the symptoms?
Monkeypox moves from one person to another when someone has close, skin-to-skin contact with a person who is infected with monkeypox and has the infection rash or scabs. It can also be spread through body fluids and respiratory droplets during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact. Any person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire and spread monkeypox.
It is also possible, but not common, that the virus could be transmitted on contaminated surfaces. To date, the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health (VBDPH) is not hearing about cases reported because of contact with surfaces. Cases are being reported after someone has close contact with the rash and skin of someone who is infected.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of being exposed to the virus. A person with monkeypox can spread the illness until their rash has healed, the scabs have crusted over and fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed. While monkeypox is not a new virus and has been well-known to other parts of the world, it has been rare in the United States. At this time, there is not good data to show that people can have or spread it without symptoms, but scientists will monitor this in months ahead. Like any other new or emerging illness, as we learn new information or if the situation changes, public health and healthcare providers will share updated information.
What should I do if I think I may have monkeypox or believe I have been exposed?
Anyone who is concerned they might have monkeypox should reach out to their healthcare provider. Healthcare providers and VBDPH can perform testing for monkeypox. Some people who have weak immune systems might need antivirals which healthcare providers and VBDPH can help facilitate. VBDPH is contacting confirmed monkeypox cases as part of routine public health follow-up to help support affected individuals, better understand the impact of this virus, and offer vaccine prevention to close contacts.
Is a vaccine available?
There are two FDA-approved vaccines that can prevent monkeypox. The VBDPH is providing vaccination for persons in high-risk groups using the Jynneos vaccine. Persons in high-risk groups are advised to get vaccinated against monkeypox because there is a greater chance they could become infected. VBDPH is currently vaccinating individuals in these high-risk groups via direct outreach. The department is encouraging individuals who believe they are at high-risk to reach out by calling 757-518-2700. So far, VBDPH has provided approximately 400 monkeypox vaccines for high-risk community members as a result of this targeted outreach and is continuing to work to expand vaccination opportunities in the city. Anyone who thinks they might be at risk can reach out to VBDPH to talk about whether they would be advised to schedule a vaccination.