VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The swift spread of monkeypox is raising concern around the world. 10 On Your Side spoke with local health official about what it is and what you should know about protecting yourself.

Monkeypox is a less deadly relative of small pox and, according to the World Health Organization, more than 100 cases of it have popped up in populations in 12 countries around the world — including at least one in the U.S.

“So, what we understand is that some cases, so far, have been among men who have reported intimate or sexual contact with other men,” said Virginia Beach Health Department Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati.

Pedati said as public health investigates the sudden spread, it’s crucial to pay attention.

The virus is endemic in Africa but officials say the recent cases have no links to travel from those countries.
Patients typically get a fever and headache first, then see the characteristic rash erupt on the face and spread across the body.

“It certainly is uncomfortable and we understand the case strain that is circulating does not have a high fatality rate,” Pedati said.

Symptoms can last two to four weeks.

Health officials in Belgium have now introduced a mandatory 21-day quarantine for patients.

The White House assured Americans over the weekend that the country has a stockpile of smallpox vaccine that could help control the spread if needed.

“This is a virus we understand. We have vaccines against it, we have treatments against it… It’s not as contagious as COVID. So, I am confident we’re going to be able to keep our arms around it,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said.

Pedati does not currently fear a spread here.

“In Virginia Beach, we are not currently aware of any specific cases or situations that would place anybody here at an increased risk,” she said.

She encourages travelers to be aware of what’s happening, and for everyone to stay informed, stay home when you’re sick and stay up to date on all vaccinations.