RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, is back in North Carolina, and the state health department is urging people at risk to get vaccinated.

State epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore, with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, explained that mpox causes flulike symptoms and lesions on the skin.

“They can be very, very painful and very disfiguring,” he noted.  

In 2022, we saw cases across the country, and people lined up here in the Triangle to get vaccinated.  

State epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore said doctors have reported two cases of mpox in North Carolina in the past six weeks.

Health officials also recently detected the virus at one of their wastewater monitoring sites.

“That was not in the same place where we’d seen either of the cases. To me, that suggests that that the virus is around and probably not limited to one location,” Moore said.

He urges people at higher risk, who have not yet been vaccinated, to get their shots.

People who already got the vaccine series do not need to repeat it.

Mpox can affect anyone, but Moore said some groups have seen higher impacts.  

“There are certain groups we’ve seen be disproportionately affected by the mpox outbreak, particularly men who have sex with men,” Moore said. “We’ve had great work from members of our LGBTQ communities to get out messages about mpox and the importance of vaccination. We’re sort of circling back with all those groups and partners now.”

He added that mpox generally spreads through sexual contact or very close skin to skin contact and the virus can be contagious for several weeks.

“Fortunately, we have not seen a lot of deaths due to mpox, but we have seen a lot of people with very severe complications,” Moore noted. “So, it’s not something that we take lightly.”

According to NCDHHS, vaccination is recommended for:

  • Anyone who has or may have multiple or anonymous sex partners
  • Anyone whose sex partners are eligible per the criteria above
  • People who  suspect they have been exposed to mpox in the last 14 days
  • Anyone else who considers themselves to be at risk for mpox through sex or other       intimate contact.

To find a free mpox vaccine near you, click here.