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New Hampshire state health officials report the State’s first pediatric monkeypox virus infection, in a child from Manchester.

Image/Robert Herriman

The child became infected after an identified exposure to a household contact diagnosed with monkeypox. The child has mild illness and is isolating at home.

“Monkeypox virus is spread primarily through direct physical contact to another person with monkeypox who has developed infectious skin lesions,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “Our public health team is working to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus so we can connect them with preventive vaccination, but the risk to the general school population and others in the community is very low.”

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and City of Manchester Health Department (MHD)  are working with child’s school to conduct contact tracing and identify other individuals who may have had direct physical contact or hours of prolonged face-to-face contact with the child while they were contagious. Any identified exposed person will be contacted by public health investigators and provided recommendations about symptom monitoring and connected with JYNNEOS vaccination, which can help prevent infection after an exposure.

The general school community is believed to be at very low risk for monkeypox virus infection. The monkeypox virus is primarily spread through direct physical contact to another person infected with the monkeypox virus who is symptomatic. While hours of prolonged face-to-face contact can also potentially spread the virus through infected respiratory droplets, this is not a primary way the virus is spreading.

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The majority of people infected with the monkeypox virus during the 2022 outbreak have been adults. However, CDC reports at least 27 children and adolescents under the age of 16 years across the U.S. who have developed monkeypox. People with monkeypox develop a unique rash that changes over time as a person’s illness progresses and then slowly goes away over several weeks. The monkeypox rash is very infectious. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, muscle aches, sore throat, or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes people may only have the rash.

A person with monkeypox can spread their infection starting when they first develop symptoms, and they remain contagious until their rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms are not considered contagious or a risk to others.