Monkeypox – A Maryland Primer

On May 19th, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) provided clinicians with guidance on Monkeypox, a disease slowly progressing throughout the United States.

MDH, in its guidance document, describes Monkeypox transmission as through “large respiratory droplets, but also through direct contact with body fluids or skin lesions, including scabs.” Indirect transmission is also possible through contact with contaminated materials and surfaces. The agency describes the symptoms of Monkeypox as follows:

fever, headache, muscle aches, lymphadenopathy, and a rash that may concentrate on the face, hands, and feet. This disease presentation may resemble chickenpox, measles, and syphilis.

Although no Maryland cases have yet materialized, on June 6th, The Hill reported that an individual in the District of Columbia had received a positive diagnosis of Monkeypox. First discovered in the 1970s, the most recent spread of the disease began in Europe, specifically within the United Kingdom. In the United States, the first documented case occurred on May 18th in Massachusetts.

MDH advocates for a three-prong strategy to contain the disease- Identify, Isolate, and Inform. Monkeypox differs from similar diseases in that individuals present with lesions. Patients presenting with Monkeypox should isolate, ideally in “negative air” spaces where respiratory droplets cannot pass from room to room. For clinicians and the public alike, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers significantly more information on Monkeypox’s history, transmission, symptoms, and treatment.

Clinicians who suspect a case of monkeypox should call the Maryland Department of Health immediately at 410-767-6700 (business hours) or 410-795-7345 (after hours) to arrange for follow-up, including testing.

Read MDH’s Monkeypox clinician guidance.