Monkeypox in Shelby County
Shelby County Health Department is responding to an outbreak of monkeypox virus that has occurred in countries that do not usually report monkeypox, including the United States. A number of cases have been reported in Shelby County.
The virus is mostly being spread through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox, especially contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or body fluids from a person with monkeypox. Other ways the virus may be spread include:
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions of someone who has monkeypox (especially during prolonged kissing).
- Pregnant people may spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which can include sexual contact. Anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation can get and spread monkeypox.
Monkeypox: Information for the Public
People with monkeypox may get a rash that may be located on or near the gentitals (penis, testicles, labia, vagina or anus. The rash may also be on other areas of the body including the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
- The rash will go through several stages, including scabs before healing.
- The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches and backache
- Respiratory symptoms including sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.
Some people experience all or only a few symptoms. Some may experience flu-like symptoms followed by the rash, while others only experience the rash.
If you experience monkeypox symptoms or believe you have come in contact with someone with monkeypox, contact your primary care physician or other health care provider.
Monkeypox: Information for Health Care Providers
Shelby County Health Department has alerted health care providers to be alert for monkeypox symptoms among their patients.
If you suspect monkeypox in a patient, diagnostic testing is available at the Tennessee State Public Health Laboratory (with confirmatory testing at CDC). Please contact the Shelby County Health Department at 901-508-2823 for approval. Prior approval from the health department is required.
Diagnostic testing for monkeypox is now available at the following commercial laboratories: Aegis, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest, and Sonic. Please follow laboratory specific specimen submission instructions if testing via a commercial laboratory. Prior approval from the health department is not necessary for testing performed at a commercial laboratory.
Clinicians are strongly encouraged to collect multiple specimens for preliminary and confirmatory testing. Two (2) swabs from each lesion should be collected for testing. Using sterile synthetic swabs (including, but not limited to polyester, nylon, or Dacron) with a plastic, wood, or thin aluminum shaft, swab the lesion vigorously to collect adequate DNA. If possible, collect specimens from different locations on the body or from lesions which differ in appearance; swabs and other specimens should each be placed in different containers. If using transport media, only VTM is accepted at this time; do not use universal or other transport media.
Refrigerate (2–8°C) or freeze (-20°C or lower) specimens within one (1) hour after collection. Store refrigerated specimens for up to 7 days and frozen specimens for up to 60 days. Refrigerated specimens should be sent within 7 days of collection; frozen specimens should be shipped within 60 days of collection. Full specimen collection instructions are available here.
Above: Examples of various stages of monkeypox rash.
Please use the TDH PH-4182 clinical submission requisition form to submit to the TN State Public Health Laboratory. A fillable PDF is available online here.
Please clearly write “orthopox PCR” or “monkeypox PCR” under “Other Miscellaneous Tests”. Ship specimens as Category B to the address on the form or contact the Shelby County Health Department to utilize state courier service.
Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is directing the distribution of all JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine in Tennessee. The vaccine is distributed to regional and county health department on a limited basis as supply allows and currently can only be given to the following:
1. Individuals with a known contact/exposure to monkeypox identified through public health interviews during the prior 14 days
2. Individuals who might have been exposed to monkeypox in the past 14 days, including if they:
- Are aware that a sexual partner was diagnosed with monkeypox in the past 14 days
- Have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days
3. Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (MSM), and/or transgender, gender-nonconforming or gender non-binary 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 (STI), including HIV
- Receiving medications to prevent HIV infection (HIV PrEP)
- Living with HIV
Shelby County Health Department has received a limited supply of Jynneos vaccine to provide to identified contacts who meet the criteria identified by the Tennessee Department of Health. Those who meet the criteria may sign up for an appointment at this link: https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/ShelbyCountyHealthDepartment@shelbycountytn.gov/bookings/. Those without internet access may call 901-222-9000 to set up an appointment or use this QR code:
Because vaccine supplies are limited, Shelby County Health Department has set up list for community members at high risk of exposure to the monkeypox virus who may be eligible for the vaccine and would like to be notified once additional vaccinations are received. CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been in close contact with people who have monkeypox. Currently this outbreak is largely affecting gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. Safer sex practices may help prevent monkeypox infection.
Please note: Signing up on this form does NOT guarantee you a monkeypox vaccination. This is NOT an appointment for vaccination. By entering your cell phone and email address, you consent to receive health-related messages from the Shelby County Health Department. Your personal information will be kept private.
We know you may have many questions about monkeypox. Please visit our FAQs page for answers to specific questions.