First monkeypox death reported in Virginia: health officials

Health officials in Virginia have confirmed the first death in the state of a person diagnosed with monkeypox, also known as "mpox."

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the death of an adult resident of the Eastern Health Region of Virginia on Thursday.

VDH did not release the patient's personal information to protect the patient and his family's confidentiality.

READ MORE: Maryland Department of Health reports monkeypox-related death

"Our thoughts are with the decedent’s family at this difficult time," said Virginia Health Commissioner, Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. "Mpox is a serious disease, especially for those with weakened immune systems. If you have been exposed to mpox or have symptoms consistent with the disease, we urge you to seek medical consultation now."

According to VDH, people should contact their healthcare provider if they have fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and a new, unexplained rash. People who are diagnosed with mpox should stay home and avoid close contact with others until the rash has fully resolved, the scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

For most people, mpox is painful but not-life-threatening, however some people with weakened immunes systems may be more likely to have serious complications or need treatment.

Mpox spreads from person to person through close contact, so VDH released the following steps you can take to prevent the spread:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with someone with a new, unexplained rash.
  • Do not share cups, utensils, bedding or towels with someone who is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected people or animals.
  • Wear a mask in situations where you may have lengthy or close face-to-face contact with people who may be infected.
  • Get vaccinated with the JYNNEOS mpox vaccine, if you are eligible.

READ MORE: Monkeypox outbreak may have peaked in US, but still widespread: officials

VDH adds that people who may have been exposed to mpox should receive the vaccine as soon as possible to reduce the chance of developing mpox after exposure. The vaccine is most effective if administered within 4 days of exposure, but it may be administered up to 14 days after exposure. 

Click here to find out if you are eligible to get vaccinated in Virginia.

To learn more about mpox click here.