BALTIMORE, Md. (DC News Now) — The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there was a presumed case of human monkeypox virus infection in an adult who lives in Maryland’s National Capital Region.

Health officials said the person was recovering in isolation Thursday and was not hospitalized. Initial testing was done at the State Public Health Laboratory. MDH was waiting for the results of testing at the CDC to confirm the results of the initial testing.

“Although human monkeypox is a rare infection in the United States, this Maryland case and other cases in the region and country remind us that we need to be prepared and take steps to prevent infection and its spread,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “MDH will continue to work with local and federal public health authorities and communicate responsibly with Maryland residents as we learn more.”

Human monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox. Usually, it causes a milder infection. It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions, body fluids or contaminated materials. It also can be spread through large respiratory droplets, which normally can’t travel more than a few feet, and prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

Symptoms include: fever, chills, new swelling of lymph nodes, and a distinctive rash that often starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body; however, health officials said the onset of rash lesions elsewhere, without other symptoms, has been reported. Symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days after exposure. For most people, they clear up within two to four weeks.

People who were potentially exposed to the person in this case will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after exposure.

Although the risk of human monkeypox transmission is low, health officials encouraged people to be aware of symptoms of the illness and to get medical care right away, especially if they meet the following criteria: 

  • Those who traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases were reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox the month before their symptoms began;
  • Those who have had close contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox; or
  • Those who have had close or intimate in-person contact with individuals in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, which includes men who have sex with men 

MDH said clinicians should “maintain a high index of suspicion for clinically compatible illness” and to contact their local health department for consultation and to line up potential testing. 

MDH provides human monkeypox information and resources for residents and clinicians on its website. The CDC also has details about human monkeypox cases on its site.

As of Thursday (June 16), data from the CDC indicated there have been monkeypox cases in 20 states, including Maryland and Virginia.