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 for current case summary and demographics in North Carolina.

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 Vaccinations 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,
  • and Gay or bisexual men or transgender individuals who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
  • Having multiple sex partners or anonymous sex
  • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
  • Receiving medications to prevent HIV infection (PrEP)

The health departments below have vaccines and are working with all other local health departments and healthcare providers to fulfill vaccine requests based on the current eligibility criteria.

  • Buncombe (828) 250-5300
  • Cumberland (910) 433-3600
  • Durham (919) 560-9217
  • Forsyth (336) 703-3100
  • Guilford (336) 641-3245
  • Mecklenburg (980) 314-9400
  • New Hanover (910) 798-6800
  • Pitt (252) 902-2300
  • Wake (919) 250-4462

Additional vaccine locations currently include:

  • Duke Clinic (Duke patients only) - Contact your Duke PCP or Specialty Care Provider
  • Haywood Health and Human Services (828) 452-6675
  • Henderson County Dept. of Public Health (828) 694-6015
  • Orange County Health Department (919) 245-2400
  • WNC Community Health Services (828) 285-0622