The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the state’s fourth, fifth and sixth cases of monkeypox (MPX). All cases are considered probable pending confirmatory testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition DPH has launched a monkeypox hotline.
The three most recent cases involve a 42-year-old Kent County man and two New Castle County men, one a 19-year-old, and one a 24-year old, whose cases are unrelated. None of the individuals reported recent travel. While at least one individual confirmed close intimate contact with another individual, none reported close contact with someone known to have MPX. All three individuals reported close contact with a very limited number of individuals and are self-isolating.
Though U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, declared MPX a national public health emergency, DPH does not have plans at this time to make a similar request specific to Delaware. Health officials will continue to monitor the situation. Based on the current number of cases, and information available about the disease at this time, the risk to the general public in Delaware appears to be low. However, low risk does not mean no risk; anyone may contract MPX, though certain activities by individuals can increase their chance of contracting the virus. MPX is different from COVID-19 in that it spreads primarily through direct contact with the rash/scabs of someone with MPX. Contact may include intimate contact, kissing, cuddling, sharing kitchen utensils or toothbrushes, and coming into contact with an infected person’s bedding, bath towels or clothing. The rate of serious illness or death attached to MPX nationally is also extremely low.
Currently, there is no specific treatment for MPX however, antivirals can be prescribed. To date, DPH has received a limited supply of vaccine, which is being prioritized for those with direct contact with individuals who have a confirmed case of monkeypox (post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP). More doses are becoming available, and DPH plans to soon implement other strategies, such as offering vaccine for expanded PEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those in high-risk groups. Those who may be eligible for expanded vaccine access include:
- People who are aware that one of their sexual or intimate partners in the past two weeks was diagnosed with MPX
- Someone who has had multiple sex partners in the last 21 days (three weeks)
- Someone who has met partners through dating apps or attended a party, or club where intimate contact occurred
- Those who are HIV positive or are receiving PrEP treatment for HIV without known exposure to MPX
There are many things residents and visitors should do, regardless of eligibility for vaccination, to prevent or reduce the chance of contracting MPX. People should avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX. Individuals who are sexually active can minimize their risk of exposure by limiting the number of partners they have, and talking to their partner about their recent history and behaviors, as well as inquiring about any rashes or other symptoms. As a general preventive behavior, individuals should wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of MPX are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. Most people who contract MPX will develop a rash, and some will develop flu-like symptoms beforehand. The flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills or exhaustion. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they usually will develop a rash one to four days later. If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms associated with MPX you should immediately:
- Contact your health care provider and discuss your symptoms and concerns.
- Self-isolate until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.
- Avoid being intimate with others.
- Make a list of your close and intimate contacts in the last 21 days.
DPH launched a hotline for individuals with questions or concerns about MPX. The hotline number is 866-408-1899 and is operational Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to DPHCall@delaware.gov. Both the hotline number and email address share staff with the COVID-19 Call Center. To learn more about MPX prevention programs and resources, visit de.gov/monkeypox .
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.
For more information about monkeypox in Delaware, visit www.sussexpride.org/monkeypox.