The state’s presumed first case of the monkeypox infection has been identified. MD health officials announced that it was found on Thursday in an adult of the Washington, D.C-area.
Initial testing was conducted at the State Public Health Laboratory. Officials are now waiting CDC testing to confirm the diagnosis. The patient is isolating at home and is not hospitalized. MDH pledges to remain vigilant against the spread of the rare virus.
“Although human monkeypox is a rare infection in the United States, this Maryland case and other cases in the region and country remind us that we need to be prepared and take steps to prevent infection and its spread,” Maryland Dept. of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan shared in a statement. “MDH will continue to work with local and federal public health authorities and communicate responsibly with Maryland residents as we learn more.”
Across the map.
Monkeypox has spread to at least 20 American states, according to CDC data. California has the highest rate of confirmed cases with 21.
What to watch for.
Experts still say that the virus is rare but also suggest that the public should be aware of its symptoms and its causes of infection.
According to the CDC, “monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body fluids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or with direct contact with materials that have touched body fluids or sores, such as clothing or linens. It may also spread through respiratory secretions when people have close, face-to-face contact.”
They have outlined some real-life examples of how the spread can occur:
- No: Casual conversations. Walking by someone with monkeypox in a grocery store. Touching items like doorknobs.
- Yes: Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions. Sexual/intimate contact. Kissing while a person is infected.
- Yes: Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone. Sharing towels or unwashed clothing.
- Yes: Respiratory secretions through face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox).
- Maybe/Still learning: Contact with semen or vaginal fluids.
- Unknown/Still learning: Contact with people who are infected with monkeypox but have no symptoms (We think people with symptoms are most likely associated with spread, but some people may have very mild illness and not know they are infected).
“Presenting symptoms typically include fever, chills, new swelling of lymph nodes, and a distinctive rash that often starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body,” writes MDH. “However, onset of rash lesions elsewhere in the absence of other symptoms has been reported.”
They say that people who meet the following criteria should especially remain vigilant:
Those who traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases were reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox the month before their symptoms began;
Those who have had close contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox; or
Those who have had close or intimate in-person contact with individuals in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, which includes men who have sex with men
If you think that you’ve been exposed or may be experiencing symptoms of Monkeypox, you should alert your physician.