RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first case of monkeypox virus infection in a North Carolina resident, identified by testing at the State Laboratory of Public Health.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash that includes bumps that are initially filled with fluid before scabbing over. Illness could be confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes, or with varicella zoster virus (chickenpox). Most infections last two to four weeks.
NCDHHS is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relevant local health departments and the patient’s health care providers to identify and notify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while they were infectious. Monkeypox is typically spread by skin-to-skin contact. The person is currently isolating at home. No further information will be shared about this case to protect the patient’s privacy.
Since May 2022, 3,308 monkeypox cases have been identified outside of endemic regions worldwide, with 156 cases identified in the United States. There have been no deaths related to this outbreak. Epidemiologic investigation of these cases is ongoing. Information about international cases is available from the World Health Organization and information about U.S. cases is available from the CDC.
"The number of monkeypox cases has been growing in the U.S. and globally," said Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist and Epidemiology Section Chief. "Though this is the first confirmed case in North Carolina, we know there are likely other cases in the state. We are encouraging doctors to consider this in people who have a rash or skin lesion that looks like monkeypox."
Monkeypox is transmitted person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact, having contact with an infectious rash, through body fluids or through respiratory secretions. Such contact often occurs during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex. While anyone can get monkeypox, in the current outbreak, many of the cases are in men who have sex with men.
“With the identification of the first confirmed monkeypox case in NC, we want our community to know that we are continuing to monitor the situation and have shared information with our local health care providers for helping identify and coordinate testing for potential cases of monkeypox," stated Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director. "In general, the CDC still considers the threat to the general population to be low. It’s important to know that based on the information available now, we know this virus does not spread easily without close contact.
"However, we do encourage our community members to remain aware of common symptoms like a rash that could look like blisters or pimples that can occur along with or without chills, fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, and/or exhaustion. Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious disease, so if you have symptoms of monkeypox, call your healthcare provider who can work with us and NC DHHS to coordinate next steps for testing."
People can take basic steps to prevent the spread of monkeypox. If you have an unexplained rash, sores or other symptoms, see your health care provider — if you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you. Keep the rash covered and avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out. Standard household cleaners and detergents are effective at cleaning environmental surfaces and linens.
More information can be found on the CDC website: