LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Health Department has been notified of a human monkeypox virus infection in a St. Mary’s County resident. The individual is isolating from others and recovering. SMCHD has begun the process of public health contact tracing and notification. The risk of transmission to the general community at this time is believed to be low.
Human monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but generally causes a milder infection. It typically spreads between people through direct contact with skin lesions or contaminated materials such as clothing or linens. It can also be spread via respiratory droplets through close contact, such as face-to-face close contact. Learn more at smchd.org/monkeypox.
SMCHD encourages community members to seek health care evaluation if they are experiencing new skin lesions or have had close contact with a person known or suspected to have monkeypox infection. While any person could get infected with monkeypox once exposed to the virus, some individuals are considered at higher risk for exposure under the current conditions of the global monkeypox outbreak of 2022. Persons who may be currently at higher risk of exposure to the virus include those who recently:
-Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or with someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
-Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network currently experiencing multiple cases of monkeypox infection; this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party)
-Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
-Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)
Symptoms of monkeypox typically include fever, chills, new swelling of lymph nodes, and a distinctive rash with skin lesions that go through different stages and may appear in different parts of the body; however, onset of skin lesions only in one area of the body and in the absence of other symptoms has been reported in the current outbreak. Symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days after exposure to the virus and, for most people, clear up within two to four weeks. Individuals identified as having been potentially exposed will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after exposure.
“Human monkeypox virus is an emerging global public health issue with cases increasing rapidly across the United States. However, thus far the monkeypox virus appears to be much less contagious than the COVID-19 virus. We also have tools available early in this outbreak to get people treated and help control spread of monkeypox infection,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “As anyone could get infected when exposed to the monkeypox virus, all community members should stay aware and get medically evaluated if they are having symptoms of monkeypox illness or have had known exposure to the virus. The health department team has been preparing for new cases and is already working with local health care providers regarding testing and treatment.”
Local health care providers who encounter a patient with illness or rash suspicious for monkeypox, or who identify exposure to a confirmed/probable monkeypox case, should immediately contact the St. Mary’s County Health Department even if testing will be conducted outside the public health laboratory system. Testing and reporting guidance has been issued to local health care providers via the St. Mary’s County Local Health Alert Network and are available online at: smchd.org/monkeypox/providers.