In the three months since the first monkeypox case appeared in the U.S., we have not seen spread through the general population. Of the >17,000 cases nationwide, less than 1 in 1,000 have occurred in children or young teens. Those few cases have resulted from transmission within households, not in classroom or daycare settings. Monkeypox transmission is nothing like covid. Spread has almost entirely been the result of direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person who has a rash. Although it’s possible to contract the virus through respiratory droplets or contaminated towels/linens, neither of these routes has shown to be a likely route of transmission. We have not seen spread in the workplace or in other settings that do not involve direct skin-to-skin contact. To this point, there have not been any cases among residents of Calvert County. Across Maryland (close to 500 cases) and the rest of the U.S., >95% of cases have occurred in males who have sexual contact with males. Male teens whose sexual preference is other males should be extremely thoughtful about potential partners. Females with bisexual partners should also take added precautions. They should ask questions of potential partners, including:
the last time their prospective partner had physical contact with other partners; and
if their partner has any active rashes or painful areas on their skin It can take as long as 3 weeks after contact with an infected person before a rash and other symptoms (headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes) appear. Once a rash from monkeypox develops, the person remains contagious until all areas of their skin have completely healed (typically 3-4 weeks).
Anyone in a high-risk category due to sexual preferences should consider vaccination against monkeypox. Vaccination is not a substitute for wise dating decisions, but it does add a significant layer of protection. Vaccine doses are currently in short supply, but we anticipate shipments in the near future. Anyone interested in vaccination should talk to their personal healthcare provider or, if they are a Calvert resident, call our Health Department at 410 535-5400 ext. 334. We may be able to provide vaccinations as early as this week. For those under age 18, parental permission is required for vaccination. All healthcare is confidential.
In the small chance an infected person (staff or child) is present in a school or daycare, our Health Department staff is prepared to immediately take action. Contact tracing and vaccination will be available to anyone who is exposed, regardless of age. School nurses have been educated, and we are in regular communication with daycare owners and staff. Fortunately, no deaths have occurred in the U.S. as a result of monkeypox, but the sores can be very painful and may result in permanent scarring. It is our hope that a combination of increased precautions and greater availability of vaccines will eliminate this virus before it becomes endemic in our country. We will continue to provide updates as more information