Virginia public health officials on Thursday reported the state’s first presumed positive case of monkeypox in a Northern Virginia woman who recently traveled to an African country.
The Virginia case is among nine identified in seven states, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told reporters Thursday morning. The state lab identified the case, and as of Thursday afternoon the Virginia Department of Health was awaiting CDC confirmation.
The patient was not infectious during travel, did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home, state officials said. The health department identified her close contacts and is monitoring them.
State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene stressed that, despite the recent national uptick, monkeypox is a very rare disease in the United States and the Virginia resident who tested positive does not pose a public health risk.
“Transmission requires close contact with someone with symptomatic monkeypox, and this virus has not shown the ability to spread rapidly in the general population," he said.
The health department last week advised medical providers in Virginia to watch for cases of monkeypox and report them to local health authorities right away.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body, the state message said. Symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days after exposure and usually clear up within two to four weeks.
The recent cases represent the first identified in the United States this year. Last year, Maryland and Texas each reported a case in people who had recently visited Nigeria, Virginia officials said.
This year, cases have also been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, New York, Washington state and California.
“We need to presume that there is some community spread, but there is active contact tracing that is happening right now to understand whether and how these cases might have been in contact with each other or with others in other countries," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.
The first monkeypox case in the United States this year was identified last week in Massachusetts, in a resident who had recently traveled to Canada. The unusual uptick globally has been clustered in Europe, as well as in the United States and Canada, the World Health Organization says.
Fenit Nirappil contributed to this report.