The Metro Public Health Department (MPHD), in coordination with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), is investigating a case of monkeypox virus infection. Testing confirmed an orthopoxvirus infection, with confirmatory testing to be done at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) The case is an individual who recently traveled to a country that has reported monkeypox cases.
MPHD is working with the patient and the patient’s health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious. The individual was not hospitalized, is currently isolated and is recovering at home.
According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare disease in the same family of viruses as smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. The CDC states that the monkeypox virus can spread from person to person through:
- direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact
- touching items like clothing or linens that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
Although infection may begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion before the development of rash, many of the cases associated with the 2022 outbreak have reported very mild or no symptoms other than rash. People should be alert for the appearance of new rashes characterized by sores, bumps or fluid-filled bumps and seek medical evaluation if they have questions.
The CDC reports that monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. Most people recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious in rare instances, especially for immunocompromised people, children, and those who are pregnant. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. Contacts are monitored for several weeks, as it can take as many as 21 days after exposure for symptoms to develop.
For more information specific to the monkeypox virus, visit the following websites from the TDH and CDC:
- Tennessee Department of Health Monkeypox Page: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/reportable-diseases/monkeypox.html
- CDC Monkeypox Page: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html
- CDC Guidance for Health Care Professionals: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/what-hcps-should-know.html