CNMI proactively preparing for possible monkeypox outbreak


Although monkeypox has not been identified in the CNMI yet, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has already taken steps to proactively prepare in case of a possible outbreak.

According to

As of last week, the World Health Organization has already declared monkeypox as “an outbreak of Public Health International emergency of international concern,” according to territorial state epidemiologist Jennifer Dudek. Additionally, as of last Friday, Dudek said Guam media outlets reported a possible monkeypox specimen that has yet to yield results.

“According to a recent news reports, Guam is currently awaiting the result of one specimen they sent off to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. While there are currently no cases of monkeypox that have been reported within the CNMI, CHCC is actively monitoring the situation, staying up to date with how to collect samples, where to send them, testing, and just urging individuals in the community to recognize the signs of the virus,” she said.

Because monkeypox has been declared a Public Health international emergency, CHCC Public Health medical director Lily Muldoon said CHCC has taken the necessary steps to prepare in case of an outbreak.

“Nothing to be alarmed about yet with monkeypox. We are not seeing it in the CNMI but, I’m sure we’re hearing about monkeypox on the national and international news level. Rest assured, the CDC and our epidemiology team are increasing our surveillance, being ready for testing, and trying to increase our vaccines stock loads so that we are prepared if monkeypox does come to the CNMI,” she said.

Muldoon noted that there currently are no treatments for monkeypox, but vaccines are forthcoming.

“We currently do not have any treatment for monkeypox, but we do have the opportunity that is forthcoming for vaccines. Currently, the CNMI does not have any vaccines available on island because the CDC is giving out vaccines based on the need of the jurisdiction. Currently the CNMI does not have any suspected cases so we don’t have any of the vaccines allocated to us at this time,” Muldoon said.

As of last week, however, Muldoon shared that monkeypox testing has been made available to the CNMI. “There currently is monkeypox testing that is sent out so we can send swabs to Hawaii and expect about a week to 10 days before the rash or specimen results can come back to us,” she said.

Monkeypox, Muldoon said, is a rare disease of the same viral family as smallpox and has similar symptoms to smallpox, but milder.

“The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, chills, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, but the most identifiable component of monkeypox is a rash. This is a rash that looks like pimples or blisters that can appear on the face, inside of the mouth, or other parts of the body, including the hands, the feet, the chest, and also in the genitals and could be confused for a sexually transmitted disease,” she said.

“Monkeypox is spread from very close contact with somebody who has the infectious rash, or from bodily fluids. In addition, people who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. They actually have to have the physical rash itself in order for it to be contagious,” Muldoon added.

She said the illness typically lasts about two to four weeks.

“If you have any concerns about a rash, feel free to contact your medical provider to be seen. It’s always good to be checked out to make sure that we identify the rashes and can help educate you about any prevention measures. If you are concerned about having monkeypox, please isolate at home so it does not spread to other people. You can contact CHCC to visit a healthcare provider and we recommend contacting in advance to let us know that you’re coming because we don’t want those with the rash to be intermingling with our general patient population,” Muldoon said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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