Mpox in Shelby County

Shelby County Health Department is responding to an outbreak of mpox virus in the United States.  A number of cases have been reported in Shelby County. 

Mpox vaccination is available at no cost at the Shelby County Health Department's Immunization Clinic at 814 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105. 

If you are at risk, book your vaccine appointment by clicking the button below:

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The mpox virus is primarily spread through close, intimate contact with someone who has the virus, especially contact with mpox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with mpox. Other ways the virus may be spread include: 

  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), or surfaces that have been used by someone with mpox.
  • Contact with respiratory secretions of someone who has mpox (especially during prolonged kissing). 
  • Pregnant people may spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta. 

Mpox 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 mpox.

Mpox: Information for the Public

People with mpox may get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals (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.

mpox-examplesOther symptoms of mpox can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Respiratory symptoms include 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 mpox symptoms or believe you have come in contact with someone with mpox, contact your primary care physician or other health care provider.

Mpox Information for Health Care Providers

Shelby County Health Department has alerted health care providers to be alert for mpox symptoms among their patients. 

Diagnostic Testing 
If you suspect mpox 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 901-222-9243 for approval. Prior approval from the health department is required.

Diagnostic testing for mpox 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.

Specimen collection
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 that 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. 

mpox-examples-2Above: Examples of various stages of mpox rash.

Requisition form
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 “mpox 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.

More information for clinicians: 
CDC Information for Clinicians webpage
CDC Laboratory Procedures and Testing
Tennessee Department of Health Mpox Epidemiologic Report

Mpox Vaccination

Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is directing the distribution of all JYNNEOS mpox vaccine in Tennessee. The vaccine is distributed to regional and county health departments on a limited basis as supply allows and currently can only be given to the following:

1. Individuals with a known contact/exposure to mpox identified through public health interviews during the prior 14 days

2. Individuals who might have been exposed to mpox in the past 14 days, including if they:

  • Are aware that a sexual partner was diagnosed with mpox 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: BOOK YOUR VACCINE HERE.  Those without internet access may call 901-222-9000 to set up an appointment or use this QR code:

monkeypox 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 MPOX 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 mpox. Currently, this outbreak is largely affecting gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. Safer sex practices may help prevent mpox infection

If you would like to receive notices about vaccine availability, please complete this form:

Please note: Signing up on this form does NOT guarantee you a mpox 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 mpox. Please visit our FAQs page for answers to specific questions. 

See answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) here.