The monkeypox virus, or MPX, has arrived in Delaware, according to the state Division of Public Health.
The state agency announced on Tuesday that a 41-year-old New Castle County man tested positive for MPX in test results received this week. This positive case is considered probable until testing is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the DPH news release.
The Delaware man did not report any travel or exposure to someone known to have MPX, but he was likely exposed to the virus after close intimate contact with an individual in early July, DPH said. The man is self-isolating and DPH is working with him to identify any possible close contacts.
DPH is also working with the CDC to confirm the course of treatment for this individual.
“The Delaware Division of Public Health has prepared to respond to MPX cases,” said DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. “As we work to confirm our first case in the state, we encourage Delawareans to be aware of being in close intimate contact with individuals who have rashes or flu-like symptoms. We will continue to monitor this situation closely.”’
The first case of human monkeypox virus infection in Maryland was reported in mid-June, and the state currently has 22 cases, according to CDC data. This data shows that New Jersey reported 11 cases and Pennsylvania has 27 people who have been infected.
MONKEYPOX IN MARYLAND:First case of human monkeypox infection reported in Maryland
More than 860 people have tested positive for the monkeypox virus in the United States as of Tuesday, but no deaths have been reported in the country, according to the CDC. The virus is rarely fatal.
What is monkeypox?
MPX is a rare disease caused through infection with the monkeypox virus, DPH said.
The virus can make you sick, causing a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, often with an earlier flu-like illness. People can get the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.
The overall risk of MPX is low, generally caused by close intimate contact, according to public health officials. Still, the virus can spread through the following ways:
- 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 MPX 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.
The incubation period of the illness − or the time from infection to symptoms − is typically seven to 14 days but can last as long as 21 days. People are typically sick for two to four weeks, and the illness is rarely fatal.
People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Public health officials said the symptoms of MPX are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus.
Most people who contract MPX will develop a rash, and some will develop flu-like symptoms beforehand. The flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills or exhaustion.
If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash one to four days later.
If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms associated with MPX, DPH advises people to immediately:
- Contact their health care provider and mention their concerns
- Self-isolate until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed
- Avoid being intimate with others
- Make a list of their close and intimate contacts in the last 21 days
Is there a treatment for monkeypox?
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection, DPH said in the news release. Instead, the smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used.
The CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been diagnosed with or exposed to MPX and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus, including:
- People who have been identified as a contact of someone with MPX
- People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with MPX
- People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known MPX
- People whose jobs may expose them to MPX such as laboratory and some health care or public health workers
How to prevent MPX infection
Delaware public health officials have the following recommendations to avoid infection:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with MPX.
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with MPX.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
To learn more, visit https://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/emerginginfectiousdiseases.html or call DPH’s Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology 24/7 emergency contact number at 888-295-5156.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.