The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County reported on Wednesday, July 13 the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the Florida Keys. 

The virus spreads through casual skin-to-skin contact, including sexual activity, with a monkeypox lesion or rash, said Alison Kerr of the county health department.

She added that hotel housekeepers who change sheets are also vulnerable to the virus. She recommended such workers wear gloves and long sleeves when changing linens. 

Testing is done by swabbing and testing one of the rashes or skin lesions that are symptomatic of monkeypox and can appear anywhere on the body. 

There is a vaccine available for monkeypox and the county health department has “very limited doses,” so officials are reserving them for vulnerable populations that include hotel housekeepers, as well as men in same-sex sexual relationships, who represent the majority of cases in Broward and Miami Dade counties, which have reported 77 and 21 cases, respectively.

Health department officials recommend calling the department at 305-293-7500 with any questions and are distributing the below information about monkeypox:


Monkeypox: Get the facts

  • Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virusMonkeypox can make you sick including a rash or sores (pox), often with an earlier flu-like illness
  • Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including: Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores or scabs; contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox; through respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox such as during intimate sexual activity, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals or anus of a person with monkeypox; hugging, massage, or kissing and talking closely; touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox, such as bedding, towels and sex toys.
  • We know the virus can be spread in fluid or pus from monkeypox sores, and are trying to better understand whether the virus could be present in semen, vaginal fluids or other body fluids.

What Are the Symptoms?

Early flu-like symptoms of monkeypox can include: fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, a rash or sores, sometimes located on or near the genitals or anus, but sometimes in other areas like the hands, feet, chest or face – sores will go through several stages before healing. 

  • Sores may be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus
  • Some people experience a rash or sores first, followed by other symptoms and some only experience a rash or sores
  • Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed – this can take several weeks

If You Have a New or Unexplained Rash, Sores or Other Symptoms…

● See your healthcare provider – if you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you.

● When you see a healthcare provider for possible monkeypox, remind them that this virus is circulating in the community

● Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out

● Follow the treatment and prevention recommendations of your healthcare provider

● Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until all your sores have healed and you have a fresh layer of skin formed.

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.