Monkeypox

New Hanover County Public Health is working with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC to monitor the 2022 outbreak of monkeypox, as it is a public health concern for all. As of August 22, there has been a confirmed case of monkeypox in New Hanover County. 

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is spread through close physical contact, such as skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact with someone who has Monkeypox. Symptoms can include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters as well as flu-like illness. Symptoms can be extremely painful but are rarely fatal.

Anyone can get monkeypox, so it is important for the community remain informed and know where to go for more information and resources.

The first case of Monkeypox in humans was recorded in 1970 and has been present in many central and western African countries since, but the current outbreak is being monitored as it presents and spreads in different ways than has been seen in the past. In May of 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) began tracking a global Monkeypox outbreak.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by an orthopox virus that is spread through close physical contact, such as skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact with someone that has Monkeypox.

While Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection it can be spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. It can also be spread through contact with items that have been used by someone with Monkeypox.

Anyone can get Monkeypox, but this outbreak is affecting men that have sex with men at a higher rate. Monkeypox can only be spread from someone that has symptoms. This type of Monkeypox is rarely fatal, but can cause extremely painful symptoms.

 

Monkeypox symptoms usually appear 1 to 2 weeks after exposure and can include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters and flu-like illness. Symptoms can be extremely painful and usually last 2 to 4 weeks.

The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing; and the rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

You may experience all or only a few symptoms

  • Sometimes, people have flu-like symptoms before the rash.
  • Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms.
  • Others only experience a rash.

The monkeypox virus can be spread from the start of symptoms until the rash is fully healed. Most cases of monkeypox will recover on their own, however, some infections may result in hospitalization with children and immunocompromised individuals being at higher risk of severe infection.

If you are sick with monkeypox, isolate at home and if you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

Learn more about signs and symptoms here.

4 images of lesions to help identify monkeypox rash

6 images of lesions to help identify monkeypox rash

 

The Jynneos vaccine can prevent monkeypox or reduce the severity of illness if given within two weeks of exposure. The vaccine is well-tolerated and consists of two doses separated by at least 28 days.

The Pandemic Operations Center is providing free vaccinations to high-risk individuals. The Jynneos vaccine is available for individuals who self-identify as meeting the following criteria:

  • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox; or
  • Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who are sexually active; or
  • People who have had sexual contact with gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals in the past 90 days; or
  • People living with HIV, or taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP), or who were diagnosed with syphilis in the past 90 days.

To schedule an appointment for vaccination, call the Pandemic Operations Call Center at 910-798-6800.

The Jynneos vaccine is given as an intradermal vaccine that is injected between the epidermis and hypodermis layers of the skin.  The Jynneos vaccine is typically administered in the inner portion of the forearm or can be given in a less visible area of the upper back, below the shoulder blade.

If you think you may have been exposed to a person with monkeypox or if you are experiencing a new, unexplained skin rash, with or without a flu-like illness, contact a healthcare provider immediately to be tested.

Testing is available at some local healthcare providers and urgent cares (call in advance to ask if testing is available). In addition, New Hanover County Public Health has tests available and to schedule an appointment, call 910-367-2484.

Testing is completed by obtaining a swab of the rash that is sent to the state or other contracted lab for processing.

If you think you may have monkeypox, isolate at home and if you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

In addition to receiving the vaccine if you are eligible, health officials encourage the community to practice the following three steps to prevent getting monkeypox:

  1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have any new or unexplained rash or lesion.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  2. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  3.  Wash your hands often. 
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

The CDC also encourages individuals to temporarily change some behaviors that may increase risk of being exposed, including safer sex practices. More information is available on the CDC’s website here.

Health: 1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3500 • Fax 910-798-7834 • Human Services Fax 910-798-7824
Environmental Health: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-6667 • Fax 910-798-7815
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