WASHINGTON — DC Health is investigating a possible case of the monkeypox from a District resident who recently traveled to Europe.
According to a statement, DC Public Health Lab confirmed that the patient tested positive for orthopox on Saturday. The patient's collected samples have since been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so that it can be tested for monkeypox. Health officials say monkeypox is included in the orthopox family of viruses.
This announcement from the health department comes after the CDC has been tracking "clusters of monkeypox" in countries that typically don't have the disease. The CDC says a U.S. resident first tested positive for monkeypox after returning from Canada on May 18.
According to CDC data released June 3, there are currently 25 recent confirmed cases of monkeypox and orthopox in 12 states.
On May 27, Virginia Department of Health confirmed that a resident from Northern Virginia tested positive for the virus. The CDC is not reporting any possible monkeypox cases in Maryland at this time.
According to DC Health, the patient who possibly has monkeypox "is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public."
Health officials describe the virus as "a rare but potentially serious viral illness that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox lesions." It is less common for the virus to spread through respiratory droplets or from making contact with materials like bedding or clothing that is contaminated.
Symptoms of the illness include headache, fever, muscle aches, lymph node swelling and exhaustion. After a couple of days with the virus, health officials say a rash will appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body. According to the CDC, the virus typically lasts between two to four weeks.
Dr. Brandy Darby, a Veterinary Epidemiologist with VDH, spoke to WUSA9 in an interview on May 26 and acknowledged after two years of COVID-19 people may be feeling "a little on edge."
"We certainly have some things that are working for us in our favor," Darby said. "Monkeypox generally ... just isn't as transmissible as COVID-19. You really do need to be in quite close contact with an infected person for that transmission to occur."
DC Health said on May 26 it issued a Health Notice for District of Columbia Health Care Providers which details reporting requirements and recommendations for possible cases.
People in D.C. who have symptoms and need to find a testing site can click here for resources.