First case of monkeypox in the Commonwealth detected in northern Virginia

Nine cases of monkeypox have been identified in seven states

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File) (Uncredited, CDC)

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Department of Health announced the first presumed monkeypox case in the state on Thursday.

Health officials said this case comes from a northern Virginia woman who recently traveled to an African country where the disease is known to occur.

The woman was not infectious during travel and did not require hospitalization. She is isolated at home to monitor her health and the health department is currently working to identify the patient’s close contacts.

Monkeypox, which is part of the same viral family as smallpox, is a virus that originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates, and occasionally is contracted by humans.

According to the VDH, monkeypox is a rare viral illness that is transmitted through close contact with an infected person or animal. Person-to-person spread occurs with prolonged close contact or direct contact with body fluids. It also can occur through contact with contaminated materials like clothing or linens

Starting symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swelling of the lymph nodes. The VDH says a specific type of rash appears after a few days, which often starts on the face before spreading elsewhere on the body.

Symptoms typically happen seven to 14 days after exposure and clear up for most people within two to four weeks; however, more severe cases may lead to death.

Health officials said that people who experience symptoms consistent with monkeypox should seek medical care, especially if:

  • They have traveled to central or west African countries or parts of Europe where monkeypox cases have been reported
  • They have had contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox
  • They are a man who regularly has close or intimate contact with other men

The CDC confirmed there are nine cases of monkeypox detected in seven U.S. states: California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

At this time, no additional cases have been detected in Virginia.

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About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.