Virginia reports first presumed case of monkeypox - what does that mean for Hampton Roads?

Europe Monkeypox
Posted at 11:45 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 23:48:03-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Thursday, we learned of the first presumed case of monkeypox here in Virginia. There are confirmed cases in multiple states and in more than 20 countries.

It’s a presumed case because the Department of Health is still awaiting test results that they believe will confirm the first monkeypox case in the state of Virginia.

The woman is a resident of northern Virginia who recently traveled to an African country where the disease is known to occur. She is currently in isolation at home.

The monkeypox is in the same family as smallpox, so most of the time it is treatable, but in comparison monkeypox is far less contagious.

We spoke to the Virginia Department of Health asking them if we should be worried about it possibly producing another pandemic like COVID-19.

“There's no indication that that monkeypox would cause a pandemic. There's really no indication of that. Yes, we are having an unusual outbreak of cases. The investigation is ongoing about why that is,” said Julia Murphy with the Virginia Department of Health.

Murphy did say COVID-19 is still a threat, and we should still be aware of that risk.

But what about all of us here in Hampton Roads now that a monkeypox case has presumably been found in Virginia?

“As far as infectiousness and level of concern for Virginia residents, monkeypox is not endemic anywhere in the United States and the infection has not commonly been reported here in this country,” said Murphy. “Person to person transmission of monkeypox is relatively limited. Usually, any one monkeypox patient does not necessarily present a large risk to the general public.”

If you’re still concerned, she says the illness usually starts out with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion — just like COVID or the flu. But what sets monkeypox apart is the swelling of your lymph nodes.

A day or two later, a rash appears on parts of the body.

Now if you’re sick, and have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, you should seek medical care from your doctor, especially if you fall into the following groups:

  • You’ve traveled to central or west Africa, or parts of Europe where cases have been reported.
  • You’ve had close contact with a person who is suspected to have monkeypox.
  • You are a man who has been in close or in intimate contact with other men.

The Department of Health emphasizing they want us to be informed about monkeypox — not alarmed.