First probable case of monkeypox in West Virginia identified in eastern panhandle

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has identified the first probable case of monkeypox in a resident of Berkeley County. Out of respect for patient privacy, no additional information will be released.

The United States is currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak with over 600 cases confirmed nationwide, and there will likely be additional cases in West Virginia in the weeks ahead.

DHHR’s Office Laboratory Services conducted the initial testing that identified this probable case of the non-variola orthopox and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting confirmatory testing. DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health and the Berkeley County Health Department are working to identify other individuals who may have been exposed.

“The threat to West Virginians from monkeypox is extremely low,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.  “Monkeypox is much less contagious than COVID-19 and is containable particularly when prompt care is sought for symptoms.”

Monkeypox can spread through close, prolonged contact with an infected person. This may include coming into contact with skin lesions or body fluids, sharing clothes or other materials that have been used by an infected person, or inhaling respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.  Vaccine to prevent or lessen the severity of illness is available through the CDC for high-risk contacts of persons infected with monkeypox, as is antiviral treatment for patients with monkeypox.  

“Over the past month, BPH has raised awareness of monkeypox among higher risk populations, alerted medical professionals, and informed local health departments throughout the state to monitor for cases,” noted Dr. Amjad. 

For West Virginia residents that are concerned about fever, swollen glands, and a new rash, please contact your health care provider for evaluation. Health care providers should request orthopoxvirus testing for patients at the state public health laboratory by calling their local health department or DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services at 304-558-5358 ext. 2. 

For more information about monkeypox, visit https://oeps.wv.gov/monkeypox.

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