The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) have identified the first case of monkeypox virus infection in Alabama. Both organizations remain on alert for additional cases.
The patient’s specimen was tested by the ADPH Bureau of Clinical Laboratories (BCL), which is part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) that responds to public health emergencies.
In this outbreak of monkeypox in the United States, approximately 1,470 cases have been identified in 44 states and more are expected. Monkeypox does not spread easily from person to person. But close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact appears to be the primary mode of transmission in the current global outbreak. It is possible that contact with materials used by infected persons, such as clothing and linens, can be a way to contract the virus. The virus typically enters the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Symptoms in this most current outbreak have not been as typical as in previous cases of monkeypox. Instead, persons will have a rash that starts out as flat spots, followed by raised spots, then vesicles that are deep-seated, have a tiny spot in the middle of the vesicle, and may be itchy or painful.
The rash may only be on one part of the body. Some people may only have the rash and not develop other symptoms such as fever, flu-like illness, headache, muscle aches, or fatigue.
The time between exposure to the virus and when the illness begins is about 7-14 days but can be as long as 21 days. Some people who have had monkeypox have been men who have sex with men, but any person exposed to a person with monkeypox and close skin-to-skin contact can be infected.
Steps to help prevent monkeypox include the following:
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has monkeypox.
Do not handle or touch the bedding, clothing, or towels of a person who has monkeypox.
Have persons with monkeypox isolate away from others.
Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after contact with ill people who have monkeypox.
Avoid contact with animals that could have the virus (such as animals that are sick or that have been found dead).
Do not hesitate to get in touch with your healthcare provider if you believe you may have monkeypox or have had close intimate contact with someone with a monkeypox rash.
Testing for monkeypox can be done at the ADPH BCL and some commercial laboratories. An effective vaccine against monkeypox exists, but at this time there is no recommendation for vaccination for those with no known exposure to confirmed cases. Antiviral treatment can be considered in persons who have certain high-risk conditions, such as immunosuppression.
For more information about monkeypox, visit the ADPH monkeypox webpage at alabamapublichealth.gov/monkeypox or the CDC monkeypox webpage at cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox