This data was updated on 9/23/22.
MDH provides human monkeypox data reporting every Friday.
Human monkeypox is a rare but serious illness caused 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
for current national case counts.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- 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
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.
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. At this time, scientists are trying to understand:
- If a person who doesn’t have MPX symptoms can spread the virus
- How often MPX is spread through respiratory secretions, and at what stage of infection a person with MPX might be more likely to spread the virus through respiratory secretions
- Whether MPX can be spread through semen, vaginal fluid, urine, or feces
Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
If you are sick with monkeypox, follow CDC guidance on how to
at home to avoid exposing others.
The JYNNEOS vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for protection against the monkeypox virus in people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who are more likely to get monkeypox. Vaccination is currently not recommended for the general public for the prevention of monkeypox.
MDH is working to expand access to the JYNNEOS vaccine. Click here to sign up for Maryland's MPX vaccine pre-registration.
If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should contact your healthcare provider, even if you think you have not had contact with someone with monkeypox. If you don’t have a healthcare provider or health insurance, visit the MDH website to find a health department near you.
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/local 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.
There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infection. However, antiviral drugs developed to protect against smallpox may be used to treat or prevent human monkeypox. These treatments are not available through routine providers, though the health department can assist with coordinating these resources.
Information for Clinicians