Virginia has its first possible case of monkeypox in the state.
In a statement released Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health said initial testing was done at its state lab, but the agency is awaiting official confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The patient is a woman from northern Virginia who recently traveled to a country in Africa. Officials said she was self-isolating at home, did not need hospitalization and “does not pose a risk to the public”.
Cases have been discovered in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington, according to a CDC briefing Thursday. A total of nine cases have been identified nationwide.
The first US resident to have a confirmed case of monkeypox this year was a man from Boston who had recently traveled to Canada. This case was reported on May 18.
“Transmission requires close contact with someone with symptomatic monkeypox, and this virus has not shown the ability to spread rapidly in the general population,” said state health commissioner Dr. Colin Greene. . “VDH monitors national and international trends and has notified healthcare providers in Virginia to monitor cases of monkeypox and report them to their local health district as soon as possible.
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Earlier this week, President Joe Biden called monkeypox “something everyone should be concerned about”, especially if the virus were to continue to spread.
Unlike the coronavirus, monkeypox is only contagious when an infected individual is symptomatic and does not spread easily from person to person, said VDH public health veterinarian Julia Murphy.
In an interview Thursday, Murphy assured Virginians there was no evidence monkeypox had “pandemic potential” and said the state was prepared to handle the disease.
There are already vaccines available to target monkeypox, a disease that has been around for more than 50 years and is considered extremely rare, especially in the United States.
The first one monkeypox The nationwide outbreak took place in 2003 and was largely concentrated in the Midwest among people who had contact with sick prairie dogs.
The viral disease is transmitted when people have prolonged interactions with body fluids or contaminated materials such as clothing or bedding.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. But one of the most distinctive signs is the presence of a specific rash with raised red marks that start on a person’s face before spreading to the rest of the body and turning into pus-filled blisters. .
The VDH estimates that the illness lasts two to four weeks, with symptoms appearing seven to 14 days after being exposed.
The state agency recommends seeking medical attention if residents have traveled to parts of Europe, central or west African countries where cases of monkeypox have been reported; if they have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed or suspected case of monkeypox; and whether they are men who have sex with men, as several, but not all, cases have been identified in this group.
However, Murphy pointed out that this is not the only group of people who can contract the disease.
“It would be a disservice to simply attribute infections to this group of individuals because we are detecting disease in individuals who are not part of this group,” Murphy continued. “[We’re] at the start of this international investigation at this point, and we could very well learn a lot more in the coming days.
Additional guidance on the appearance of monkeypox transmission in various communities and who may be at higher risk should be available in the coming days, Murphy said.
Last Saturday, the World Health Organization said in a report that the spread of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox with no direct travel link to places where the virus is endemic – such as countries in central and west Africa – is “atypical” and “a highly unusual event”.
Endemic means “constantly present but restricted to a particular region”, according to Columbia University School of Public Health.
“There is therefore an urgent need to raise public awareness of monkeypox and to undertake comprehensive case finding and isolation. [provided with supportive care]contact tracing and supportive care to limit onward transmission,” WHO officials wrote.
Murphy said the VDH works with several teams internally, such as emergency preparedness, pharmacy and immunization staff, to provide any necessary response support. The agency is also hosting webinars and outreach activities with health care providers to educate them on symptoms to watch out for.
On Thursday evening, the VDH found no additional cases of monkeypox after conducting contact tracing.
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