For Immediate Release: July 29, 2022
Vermont Announces First Case of Monkeypox Virus (hMPXV) Infection
Risk to Vermonters Remains Low
BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health announced the state’s first case of human monkeypox virus (hMPXV). The individual is an adult from Franklin County, Vermont. Initial testing performed by the State Public Health Laboratory was positive for the virus, and confirmatory testing for hMPXV is being performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
HMPXV is an Orthopoxvirus genus that also includes smallpox and cowpox viruses. The virus has been spreading in the U.S. and globally. To date, there have been 4,907 cases identified in the U.S., in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Worldwide, there have been over 21,000 cases during the current outbreak. There have been no reported deaths due to the virus.
State health officials said the person is under the care of their health care provider, and the current risk of community transmission associated with this case is very low. To protect patient privacy, the Health Department is not releasing additional information about the individual.
“That the virus has shown up in Vermont is unwelcome news, but not a surprise, and I am hopeful this person recovers quickly,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “We have been closely following the global spread of hMPXV and continue to maintain close communication with experts from CDC.”
“HMPXV can lead to serious and painful illness,” Dr. Levine said. “We are fortunate that the threat to Vermonters remains low at this time.”
Unlike the COVID-19 virus, hMPXV does not spread easily from person to person, and most people recover without treatment.
Anyone in close contact with a person with hMPXV can get it and should take steps to protect themselves. Even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, hMPXV can spread during intimate physical contact. According to the CDC, people who may be at higher risk of exposure to the virus include, but are not limited to, men who have sex with men.
Transmission of the virus typically requires skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with body fluids, or prolonged face-to-face contact, including:
- Direct contact with rash, sores or scabs from a person who has the virus.
- Contact with objects, fabrics (such as clothing, bedding or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone who has the virus.
- Contact with respiratory secretions, through prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing.
Symptoms of hMPXV might include a rash, fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. However, some people might experience a rash without any other symptoms.
In order to help prevent spread of the virus, it’s important that Vermonters protect themselves by knowing how to make safe choices in situations where intimate contact or skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur.
Anyone who might have come into close contact with a person who has the virus, and has a new or unexplained rash or sores, should contact their health care provider. If you do not have a provider or insurance, you can call 2-1-1 to be connected to services. People experiencing possible symptoms of the virus should avoid close contact with other people and animals until they have been seen by a health care provider.
Dr. Levine said that stigma associated with the virus may be an issue, and the Health Department is working with clinicians and partners who work with at-risk groups to help anyone who may have been exposed feel comfortable accessing care.
Clinicians are urged to become familiar with signs and symptoms of hMPXV, and should immediately contact the Vermont Department of Health if they suspect the virus in a patient.
Vaccine and treatment after an exposure are available on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Health Department and CDC. Vermont currently has a limited supply of vaccine from the federal government. As part of our response preparation, the state has received 86 doses of 426 allocated to Vermont to date by the federal government. The CDC is working to rapidly increase available vaccine doses, and we expect more vaccine in Vermont in the coming weeks and months. Health officials are working to determine how to use vaccine for those at highest risk to help prevent further spread of the virus and will share more information when it is available.
For more information about the virus, visit healthvermont.gov/hMPXV
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