The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has confirmed two cases of monkeypox infection in a person in the Midlands region and another person in the Lowcountry region. The affected individuals will be monitored until they are no longer infectious to prevent spread of the virus and will be isolated if needed. Appropriate care will be provided as needed.
“We understand residents have concerns about how this virus might impact our state,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “We expected infections to eventually occur in South Carolina as part of the larger international outbreak, which is why DHEC has been planning a response for weeks. That said, monkeypox doesn’t spread easily and we believe the risk to the general population remains low at this time.”
Midlands and Lowcountry regional epidemiology staffs are completing contact investigations and offering post-exposure vaccination to people exposed to the individuals who are infected. Those people also will be monitored to determine if they develop an infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been notified, and DHEC continues to follow CDC guidance in the monkeypox response.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness. The typical illness begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes that progresses to a rash on the face and body, but we are learning that many cases in the current outbreak do not have the typical onset and the rash may only appear on part of the body. Most infections last two to four weeks. Monkeypox is a reportable condition in South Carolina as a novel infectious agent. Healthcare providers are asked to notify DHEC of any patient that they suspect may have monkeypox to receive guidance about the recommended evaluation.
Monkeypox is not easily transmitted from person to person. It can be spread through prolonged face-to-face contact, skin-to-skin contact including sexual contact, and through contaminated materials (clothing or linens of an infected person).
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to someone with monkeypox infection or have a new, unusual rash, please seek medical attention from your usual healthcare provider, visit an urgent care center, or call your local health department.