Hamilton County Health Department Monkeypox Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 3, 2022
What is Monkeypox? Is it deadly?
Monkeypox is a rare but a potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, and can progress to a rash on the face or body. Many of the cases associated with this 2022 outbreak have been reported as mild or no symptoms other than a rash. Most cases self-resolve and do not involve any treatment.
Is this a new virus?
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries. Previously, almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.
What are the symptoms?
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. You may experience all or only a few of the symptoms of monkeypox. For the 21 days following your exposure, monitor yourself for a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. Other symptoms may include: fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash. Symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection.
The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash may also be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus. Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
What should I do if I begin to show symptoms?
If you develop these symptoms, isolate yourself at home and call your healthcare provider to discuss how you’re feeling and the potential need for monkeypox testing. If you must leave your home or be around other people after developing symptoms, either to seek medical care or for any other reasons, wear a surgical mask.
What do I do if I have been diagnosed with Monkeypox?
Isolate yourself, practice healthy habits, inform your close contacts, communicate with the public health department, and monitor your health.
Learn More: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/reportable-diseases/Monkeypox-Case-Guidance.pdf
Is the Health Department investigating any suspected cases of Monkeypox in Hamilton County?
The Health Department investigates suspected Monkeypox cases in Hamilton County. We work closely with area providers and the first step is discussing testing options for the individual. If testing is indicated, while awaiting test results, the person is directed to isolate from others. If the test comes back positive, Health Department staff do a case investigation to identify any close contacts as well as giving guidance on maintaining isolation. In addition, staff attempt to trace the source of infection to prevent further spread as well as offer treatment and vaccination.
Is the vaccine available and if so, should I get vaccinated?
The U.S. government has two stockpiled vaccines that can prevent monkeypox in people who are exposed to the virus. Vaccines may be recommended for people who have had or may have contact with someone who has monkeypox, or for healthcare and public health workers who may be exposed to the virus.
CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox. People who may be eligible for vaccination include: People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox or people who may have been exposed to monkeypox, such as:
§ People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
§ People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox cases
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including: direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox, touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox, contact with respiratory secretions. This contact can happen during intimate contact including, oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox, hugging, massage, and kissing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.
**Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances for exposure to monkeypox. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.**
How can I get tested or when should I get tested?
People who think they have monkeypox or have had close personal contact with someone who has monkeypox should visit a healthcare provider to help them decide if they need to be tested for monkeypox. If they decide that you should be tested, they will work with you to collect the specimens and send them to a laboratory for testing.
Does the Health Department have vaccines available and is there a fee for the vaccine?
Yes, but due to a limited supply and based on CDC recommendations, the Health Department will only be providing vaccines to people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox. There is no fee for the monkeypox vaccine.
How can Monkeypox be prevented?
Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with monkeypox. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with a monkeypox. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What is considered close contact/high risk?
High Risk/Close Contact- would be skin-to-skin contact with someone with active lesions or exchange of secretions, oral or otherwise. Also handling of linen/garment with said fluids
Medium Risk—In the close presence of someone with active lesions for more than 3 hours (ex. Car ride). Assisting someone with lesions in changing or bathing
Low risk—Briefly in the room with an affected patient with active lesions, or taking vitals, drawing blood, etc.
What do I do if I have been exposed?
Monitor your health. Symptoms can develop up to 21 days after exposure to monkeypox. For the 21 days following your exposure and if you begin to develop these symptoms, isolate yourself at home, and call your healthcare provider to discuss how you’re feeling and the potential need for monkeypox testing.
Is the HD testing for Monkeypox?
The Health Department recommends that residents who think they may have monkeypox seek testing through their primary care physician or through a local urgent care.