Infection Prevention & Control Program

The Infection Prevention and Control Program is responsible for monitoring cases of known or suspected infectious diseases, including COVID-19, Lyme Disease, Meningitis, Tuberculosis and Zika; responding to disease outbreaks; and assuring case management and treatment of certain diseases.

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Monkeypox
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Background/Resources
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Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are tracking multiple cases of monkeypox that have been reported in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States.

It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

CDC is urging healthcare providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

CDC is working with state and local health officials to identify people who may have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for monkeypox, so they can monitor their health.

On June 16, 2022, MDH reported a presumed human monkeypox virus infection in a Maryland resident.​

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Signs and Symptoms
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Human monkeypox typically begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion that appear 5-21 days after the individual was infected.  Within 1-3 days (sometimes longer) of the onset of fever, infected individuals develop a rash that often starts on the face before spreading to other parts of the body, including the hands, feet, and genitals.

The illness commonly resolves in 2-4 weeks, but it can be deadly for some individuals.

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Transmission
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Transmission of human monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with an infected animal or human, or materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). 

Animal-to-human transmission can occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. 

Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.

A person is considered infectious from the onset of symptoms and is presumed to remain infectious until lesions have crusted, those crusts have separated, and a fresh layer of healthy skin has formed underneath.

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What People Should Do
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Anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox. People who may be at higher risk might include but are not limited to those who:

  1. Had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with confirmed or probable monkeypox
  2. Had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or social event (e.g., a bar or party)
  3. Traveled outside the US to a country with confirmed cases of monkeypox or where monkeypox activity has been ongoing
  4. Had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet that exists only in Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)

Individuals with health/medical questions about Monkeypox should first contact their healthcare provider. Individuals may also email the Health Department at [email protected] or call 410-313-6284.

CDC: Social Gatherings, Safer Sex and Monkeypox

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Information for Healthcare Providers
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Healthcare providers in Howard County who believe they have a patient with Monkeypox should contact the Health Department Outbreaks and Surveillance team by calling 410-313-1412.

Communicable Disease Information
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Avian Flu Resources
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Avian Flu

Avian influenza is a virus that can cause severe illness and death disease in both wild and domestic birds (like chicken and duck). While avian influenza can be transmitted to humans, the illness is typically mild.

Infected birds can shed avian influenza viruses in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with the virus as it is shed, or through contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the virus.

Signs of disease in birds include swollen eyelids/sinuses/combs or wattles, purple or bluish discoloration of wattles and combs, respiratory snicking (a hacking sound made as the birds try to clear their upper respiratory tract), generally depressed birds, and unexplained deaths.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is working closely with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and HCHD, to assist poultry owners with the surveillance (monitoring behavior), reporting and control of avian influenza.

People with poultry are urged to remain vigilant and do everything possible to reduce the chances of an infectious disease being spread by people or animals. Please report any unusual or sudden increases in sick birds to MDA (410-841-5810) and HCHD (410-313-1412).

For additional information and resources visit the links below.

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Measles Information & Resources
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Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Make sure you and your child are protected with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Resources:

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Reportable Illnesses
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Laboratories and Healthcare Providers are required by law to report certain diseases to the local health department. Some diseases are recorded to become a part of the Local, State and National statistics. Other diseases require public health measures, or interventions. These diseases include, but are not limited to:

  • Foodborne illnesses
  • Hepatitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Meningitis
  • Outbreaks

The Howard County Health Department may contact you for information that will assist in the investigation, and help to prevent others from getting sick.

See Maryland's Infectious Disease Bureau or CDC.gov for specific disease information.

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Healthcare Providers
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Howard County Healthcare Providers who need to submit a reportable illness case to the Health Department should call 410-313-1412. Providers may also email [email protected] for assistance.

MDH Letter: Clinical Consideration for Providers Caring for Ukrainians (May 18, 2022)

Pediatric Hepatitis Clinician Letter (April 2022)

MDH Memo: RSV Season Clinical & Prior Authorizations (September 13, 2021)

MDH RSV Clinical Update #2 (September 29, 2021)

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