RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has reported the first death of a person diagnosed with mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, in Virginia.

According to the VDH, the patient was an Eastern Health Region resident.

“Our thoughts are with the decedent’s family at this difficult time,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Mpox is a serious disease, especially for those with weakened immune systems. If you have been exposed to mpox or have symptoms consistent with the disease, we urge you to seek medical consultation now.”

VDH is advising Virginians to contact their healthcare provider if they have the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • chills
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • new, unexplained rash

Those diagnosed with mpox should stay home and avoid close contact with others until symptoms clear, the rash is fully resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed — according to VDH.

Health officials say, for most people, mpox infection is not life-threatening but is painful.

They say mpox can be prevented, and residents can do the following to prevent spreading:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with someone with a new, unexplained rash.
  • Do not share cups, utensils, bedding, or towels with someone who is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected people or animals.
  • Wear a mask in situations where you may have lengthy or close face-to-face contact with people who may be infected.
  • For those eligible, consider discussing the JYNNEOS vaccine with your healthcare provider.

VDH says people who may have been exposed should receive the vaccine as soon as possible to reduce the chance of developing the disease. The vaccine is said to be most effective if it is administered within 4 days after exposure, but it may be administered for up to 14 days after.

Health officials say to contact your local health department to see if you are eligible for vaccination and where it is available. Healthcare providers with high-risk patients should work with local health departments to facilitate the administration of the JYNNEOS vaccine and other options. More information can be found here.

For more information about cases and vaccines for mpox in Virginia, visit here. Also, to see VDH’s latest information about the disease, visit their website. Virginians can also call 877-829-4682 for information regarding mpox and treatment, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.