Human​ Monkeypox

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Overview

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is working with partners to monitor the global Human Monkeypox outbreak and provide information to residents. Check this page for updates and follow us at http://www.twitter.com/MDHealthDept and https://www.facebook.com/MDHealthDept.​


Background

Human monkeypox is a rare but serious illness c​aused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which can infect humans and other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. The human monkeypox virus belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.

Historically, most human cases of monkeypox have been identified in Central and West Africa. Rarely, human monkeypox cases have been identified outside of Central or West Africa, though many cases reported links to those regions, either through travel or exposure to humans or animals that had been infected in those areas.

In May 2022, several clusters of human monkeypox cases were reported in countries that don't normally report human monkeypox, including the United States. It's not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

On June 16, 2022, MDH reported a presumed human monkeypox virus infection in a Maryland resident.​ Please refer to the CDC website​ for current Maryland and national case counts.
 

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
  • ​Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Transmission

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:

  • ​direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

Prevention

Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:​
If you are sick with monkeypox, follow CDC guidance on how to isolate​ and disinfect at home to avoid exposing others.​

Testing and Treatment

At this time, the risk to the general public appears to be low.  Individuals who believe they were exposed to monkeypox or have an illness that could be monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider.  People without a provider or insurance should visit health.maryland.gov/CSTIP/loca​l to find contact information for their local health department.

Healthcare providers who suspect human monkeypox in a patient can now order testing directly through some commercial laboratories.  Providers seeking monkeypox virus testing at the MDH laboratory must get health department approval prior to submitting specimens and follow the MDH Laboratories Administration specimen submission guidance. ​​​Healthcare providers should educate patients on home isolation while results are pending.

Human monkeypox vaccine and treatments are not available through routine providers, though the health department can assist with coordinating these resources.​​

Monkeypox Resources

Information for Clinicians

MDH

CDC​​
CDC Health Alert Network Advisory: Monkeypox Virus Infections in Non-endemic Countries (May 20, 2022)

MDH Resources

Press Release: Monkeypox Update (August 2, 2022​)​

Other Resources​