The Delaware Division of Public Health‘s (DPH) announced the state’s first case of the monkeypox virus (MPX). This week, DPH received test results showing a 41-year-old New Castle County man tested positive for MPX. This positive case is considered probable pending confirmatory testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Delaware man did not report any travel or exposure to someone known to have MPX but is believed to have been exposed to the virus after close intimate contact with an individual in early July.
The individual is self-isolating and DPH is working with him to identify any possible close contacts. Currently, DPH is 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.”
MPX is a rare disease caused through infection with the monkeypox virus. It can make you sick, causing a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, often with an earlier flu-like illness. Transmission of MPX occurs when a person encounters the virus from an animal, human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
The overall risk of MPX is low, generally caused by close intimate contact. However there are other ways it can spread including:
- 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 (time from infection to symptoms) is typically seven to 14 days but can as long as 21 days. The illness itself typically lasts two to four weeks and is rarely fatal. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of MPX are similar to, but milder than, the symptoms of smallpox. Symptoms usually start within 3 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 you should immediately:
- Contact your health care provider – mention your 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 your close and intimate contacts in the last 21 days
Currently, there is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection. Instead, smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used. 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
To prevent infection with MPX:
- 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.
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Is the monkey pox vaccine available in Delaware?