Haywood County confirms first case of monkeypox

Press release from the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency:

The Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency (HCHHSA) is reporting the first case of monkeypox virus infection in a Haywood County resident, confirmed by testing at the State Public Health Laboratory.

This case is also the first recorded in the state of North Carolina.

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes, and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over. Illness could be confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes; or with varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox). Most infections last 2-to-4 weeks.

HCHHSA is working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the patient’s health care providers to identify and notify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious. Monkeypox is typically spread by skin-to-skin contact. The person is currently isolating at home. No further information will be shared about this case to protect the patient’s privacy.

Since May 2022, 156 cases monkeypox cases have been identified in the United States. There have been no deaths related to this outbreak. Epidemiologic investigation of these cases is ongoing. Information about US cases is available from the CDC.

“We are encouraging providers to pay close attention to the clinical presentation of symptoms consistent with monkeypox. If clinicians identify patients with symptoms such as fever, chills and the distinctive vesicular or pustular rash, monkeypox should be considered as a possible diagnosis,” said Haywood County Health Director Sarah Henderson.

Some people are at a higher risk for getting monkeypox including — people who have had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox; people who have had close contact, such as skin-to-skin contact, with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, including men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party); and people who traveled to an area where monkeypox activity has been ongoing may also be at a higher risk.

In this outbreak, monkeypox is transmitted from person to person through direct contact with infectious rash or body fluids or through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. While anyone can get monkeypox, many of the current cases are in men who have sex with men.

Infection with monkeypox virus begins with an average incubation period of 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days. A person is not contagious during this period. The contagious period begins with the onset of symptoms. The first symptoms include fever, headache, malaise, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. Following the initial onset of symptoms, lesions will develop in the mouth and on the body and will progress through several stages. A person is contagious from the onset of symptoms through the scab stage of lesions.

People can take basic steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox. If you have an unexplained rash, sores, or other symptoms, see your healthcare provider – if you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you. Keep the rash covered and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out. Monkeypox virus can be killed by common household cleaners and detergents.

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