North Carolina’s first case was identified on June 23, 2022. Nearly all monkeypox cases in North Carolina have been in men who have sex with men, consistent with findings from other jurisdictions.

Click HERE to view North Carolina's current case summary and demographics. 

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by an orthopox virus typically found in West and Central Africa. As such, most cases in the US, prior to 2022, have been travel associated. A previous outbreak in 2003 associated with pet rodents did result in local transmission in the US.

The disease typically begins with a prodrome of fever, exhaustion, headache, and sometimes sore throat and cough. Lymph nodes may swell in the neck, armpits, or groin, on one or both sides of the body. Shortly after the prodrome symptoms, a rash appears. In some of the recent cases, the first symptom was a rash. The rash goes through four stages; flat (macular), to raised (papular), to fluid-filled (vesicular), to pus-filled (pustular) and may umbilicate (the center may open or sink in) before scabbing over and resolving. This happens over a period of 2-3 weeks. Lesions may be all over the body, including the palms, feet, and head, or located only on specific body parts such as the genitals or around the buttocks. The rash may be painful and during healing stages may itch.

Testing and Vaccination for Monkeypox

Vaccines are available (see locations below) to protect against monkeypox or to reduce disease severity. Testing is widely available and encouraged if you had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, or have unexplained bumps, sores, blisters, or pimples that look like monkeypox. Contact your healthcare provider or Wilkes Health to arrange for testing if needed.

NC DHHS has expanded the vaccine eligibility criteria to include:

    • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox; or 
    • Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who are sexually active; or  
    • People who have had sexual contact with gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals in the past 90 days; or 
    • People living with HIV, or taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP), or who were diagnosed with syphilis in the past 90 days.