ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today issued an update on the state’s operational response to the human monkeypox outbreak, including efforts to make testing, vaccination, and public health resources widely available for high-risk populations.
“Since before our first monkeypox case was identified, the state has been mounting an aggressive response to this outbreak in coordination with local and regional partners,” said Governor Hogan. “While vaccine supply from the federal government is severely limited at this time, anyone who believes that they may need testing or treatment should contact their healthcare provider or local health department immediately. We will keep pressing the federal government to provide more vaccines to the states and do all we can to make resources available to those at risk.”
“We want to emphasize that the goal is limiting the spread of the virus and vaccinating those who may have been exposed in the prior two weeks,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan. “Due to the limited supply of the vaccine from the federal government, the state is working closely with local health partners to make doses available in a manner that focuses on locations that have case counts and higher-risk populations. We plan to expand access to the vaccine as more supply becomes available.”
Overview. Human monkeypox is a rare but serious illness predominantly caused by prolonged intimate physical contact. In May 2022, several clusters of human monkeypox cases were reported in countries that do not normally report human monkeypox, including the United States. Maryland’s first monkeypox case was announced on June 16, 2022. While anyone can get and spread monkeypox, the vast majority of cases have been reported among men who have sex with men.
Case Counts. As of today, the State of Maryland is reporting 129 lab-confirmed monkeypox cases, representing 2.2% of cases nationwide. At present, the majority of cases have been reported in the National Capital Region. Case counts are updated daily by the CDC.
Testing Capacity. Testing for monkeypox is available through commercial labs and the MDH state public health laboratory. It is not available to purchase off store shelves. Individuals who believe they were exposed to monkeypox or have an illness that could be monkeypox should contact their medical provider. People without a provider or insurance should visit health.maryland.gov/CSTIP/local to find contact information for their local health department. Healthcare providers should educate patients on home isolation while results are pending.
Vaccination Plan. To date, the federal government has allocated to MDH enough doses to vaccinate 3,202 patients with the two-dose Jynneos vaccine. Vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, and additional supply may not be available until the fall. Based on CDC guidelines, state and local health officials are prioritizing vaccination courses for:
- Public Health Identified Close Contacts: Known close contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing, and risk exposure assessments.
- Occupational Exposure: Healthcare workers who may have been exposed to a known case and Laboratory Response Network (LRN) or other laboratory staff working directly with monkeypox testing.
In addition, state and local health officials will follow CDC guidelines to make vaccines available to the following categories of individuals based on supply:
- Self-Identified Partners of Cases: Individuals who are aware that one of their sexual partners from the past two weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Affected Community Members: Individuals in high-risk populations who report any of the following in the past two weeks:
- Recent group sex or sex with multiple partners.
- Sex or employment at a venue or in association with an event, venue, or defined geographic area where monkeypox transmission has been reported.
Given the limited federal vaccine supply, MDH is focused on ensuring sustained and equitable access to vaccines across all jurisdictions based on data-driven factors. The most doses have been made available to jurisdictions that report the highest incidence of known cases and exposures. Individuals who believe they are eligible for vaccination should contact their local health department.
Contact Tracing. Extensive contact tracing is being conducted by MDH and local health departments for all presumed cases. Individuals identified as having close contact with case-patients have been offered vaccination through their local health department, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Public Outreach and Awareness. State health officials continue to conduct direct outreach to clinicians and regularly brief local health officers. A listening session for interested residents has been held as well. MDH has also made available a fact sheet and frequently asked questions with information about human monkeypox. Earlier this week, the CDC released updated guidance on isolation and prevention practices.