Last week, the first presumed monkeypox infection was identified in a resident from the National Capital Region, though he presented only mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
On Wednesday, June 22, the Maryland Department of Health reportedly announced that there have been additional potential cases identified, and all are isolated and recovering in their home.
The Department of Health is working with federal health officials to confirm all three cases. No other information was immediately released regarding any of the cases.
Symptoms of monkeypox include a rash that could be preceded by a prodrome including fever, lymphadenopathy, and often other non-specific symptoms such as malaise, headache, and muscle aches, health officials said.
They generally appear seven to 14 days after exposure and, for most people, clear up within two to four weeks.
"Human monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but generally causes a milder infection," according to the Maryland Department of Health. "It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions, body fluids, or contaminated materials such as clothing or linens.
"It can also be spread through large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, and prolonged face-to-face contact is required."
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection, although antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial, officials noted, adding that the World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of establishing a new name for the virus.
“Based on the limited information available at this time, the risk to the public appears low,” according to the CDC. "Some people who may have symptoms of monkeypox, such as characteristic rashes or lesions, should contact their healthcare provider for a risk assessment.”
There are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent infection with human monkeypox virus, according to health officials in Maryland:
- "Isolate infected or potentially-infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection;
- Ensure the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is used when caring for these individuals;
- Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where human monkeypox occurs);
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in contact with a sick animal or human;
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer."
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