The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) needs your help to contain the current monkeypox outbreak that is growing rapidly in the United States and across the globe. To date, Virginia has three reported monkeypox cases. Other suspected cases have been reported, investigated, and ruled out with testing conducted at Virginia’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS).
Healthcare providers working in outpatient clinics are at the front lines of this response and may be the first to suspect monkeypox. These include providers working in primary care, urgent care, emergency medicine, sexually transmitted infection clinics, dermatology, gynecology, and oral health. Here are key points to be aware of:
- Many patients have mild symptoms that might be confused with sexually transmitted infections or varicella zoster virus. Rash lesions can begin on the genitals, perianal region, or oral cavity and might be the first or only sign of illness.
- Co-infection with sexually transmitted infections have been reported.
To contain this outbreak, it is critical that providers recognize and report suspected cases immediately to their local health department (LHD).
- With timely reporting, LHD staff can facilitate monkeypox testing, which is currently only available at certain public health laboratories, but likely to expand soon to certain commercial laboratories.
- LHD staff can also ensure that people with monkeypox isolate safely and have access to treatment if they have or are at high risk for severe illness; monitor their close contacts; and offer post exposure prophylaxis to close contacts with high-risk and intermediate-risk exposures.
- Review VDH’s Monkeypox Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Settings to prepare your facility for potential cases.
Resources from CDC and VDH are available to help providers recognize and report suspected cases:
- CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Call: “Monkeypox: Updates about Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment” TODAY, Wednesday, June 29th from 2-3 PM
- Monkeypox website – main landing page
- Monkeypox website for Clinicians – landing page for healthcare providers
- Clinical Recognition website – includes monkeypox rash photos
- 2022 U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak website – for the latest U.S. information
- Monkeypox website for healthcare providers – includes how to locate your local health department, FAQs, preparedness checklists for facilities, information for testing at DCLS, infection control guidance, and recent webinars for Virginia providers
- Monkeypox website for the public – includes general fact sheets and Virginia case counts
- Clinician Letter on June 14, 2022 – letter dedicated to monkeypox for providers in Virginia including when to suspect monkeypox
- 2-page Monkeypox Information Sheet for Healthcare Providers – highlights the top things to know about monkeypox
Time is of the essence to control this outbreak. Please share this information broadly both within your healthcare network and with any colleagues or facilities where frontline healthcare is provided.
Thank you for all your efforts to identify, report, and prevent monkeypox in Virginia.