“Our thoughts are with the decedent’s family at this difficult time,” State Health Commissioner Colin Greene said in a statement, using the term “mpox,” following the World Health Organization’s renaming of the disease in an effort to destigmatize it. “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.”
The CDC reports 29,367 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, including 524 in D.C., 732 in Maryland and 558 in Virginia since the outbreak began in May. A Maryland resident who was immunocompromised and tested positive for mpox died in October, officials said.
Officials credit changes in behavior and an aggressive vaccination campaign for the decline and encourage people who are immunocompromised or otherwise high-risk to obtain the two-dose vaccine.
In the District, which has the highest case rate per capita compared with any state, more than 38,000 vaccine doses have been administered. D.C. public health officials made getting vaccinations easier when they eliminated preregistration, transitioned to an entirely walk-up system and merged monkeypox vaccine clinics with existing coronavirus vaccine centers.
By late September, D.C., Maryland and Virginia had all expanded eligibility criteria to include any person, of any sexual orientation or gender, who has had anonymous or multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks.
This includes people considered highest-risk: gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men; transgender men and transgender women; sex workers; and staff at bathhouses, saunas or sex clubs.
Monkeypox symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and a new, unexplained rash. Although painful, the infection is usually not life-threatening.