New mpox case may change how some view the virus

VDH reported the first death of a person with mpox in the state on Dec. 1, 2022.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 10:47 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - On Thursday, Virginia’s Department of Health (VDH) reported the first death of a person diagnosed with mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, in the state.

In a press release, VDH described the patient as an adult male from the Eastern Health Region.

Despite this, medical experts say they have seen a significant drop in the number of new cases in the Commonwealth.

Dr. Brandy Darby, a veterinary epidemiologist with VDH, said they reported the first cases of mpox in the state in May of 2022. At that time, they were seeing between 40 and 50 new cases of the virus weekly. Now, that number had lessened to less than 10 cases per week statewide.

Darby said this case does not change necessarily change anything treatment-wise, but it could alter the way people think about this virus.

”The significance of this case is just a really solemn reminder that while mpox is here and it’s been here with us for some weeks, it’s not something that should be taken lightly because for some people it can have really serious consequences,” she said.

She explained that the nature of the illness is what can make it dangerous, especially for those who are immunocompromised.

“Each one of those rash lesions, that’s where the virus is replicating or producing more copies of itself,” she said. “Each one of those lesions are like little virus factories, so they can spread.”

According to the VDH Monkeypox dashboard, 558 cases have been reported in Virginia as of Dec. 1. There have also been 24 hospitalizations and one death reported.

They also show that no cases have been reported in the Central Shenandoah Health District, but the Lord Fairfax Health District shows between 1 and 4 cases reported as of Dec. 1.

Darby reminds you that mpox vaccines are still available. VDH has recently updated the eligibility requirements for the 2-dose shot.