Chicago Mpox Cases Prompts Push for Vaccinations in Wake County

Public Health team offering no-cost testing and shots

With summer events and festivals ahead, Wake County Public Health is encouraging those at risk for mpox to get vaccinated and take advantage of convenient no-cost appointments available now to help prevent the spread.

This reminder comes on the heels of a cluster of new infections of mpox, formerly called monkeypox, in Chicago earlier this month that saw 21 people infected.

“We’re not trying to scare anyone. If you’re planning to go to a festival or event this summer, just remember what you can do to protect yourself and others,” said Wake County Board of Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “We have the tools and knowledge to avoid another scare like we saw last year and keep our numbers of infection low.”

Mpox is a virus in the smallpox family. Last year, there was an unusual global outbreak with more than 31,000 cases reported in the U.S. – including 708 cases in North Carolina and 115 cases in Wake County.

According to the CDC, symptoms of mpox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.

The good news is that testing and vaccines for mpox are readily available at Wake County Public Health Center and regional center locations.

To make an appointment for the vaccine or testing, residents can visit or call 919-250-3900 (vaccine) and 919-212-9398 (testing).

Sexually Transmitted Infections on the Rise
While an mpox vaccination will help to protect you this summer, it’s not the only contagious disease with the potential for rapid spread. Being up to date on sexual health screenings like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are just as important.

Sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia have reached peak numbers nationally, statewide and locally over the last few years. Syphilis cases in the U.S. have reached their highest level since 1950 and show no sign of slowing down.

Wake County saw 424 cases of syphilis in 2022. This was almost double the case rate from five years ago, and 42.2% of cases were in the 15- to 30-year-old age range.

“Syphilis is known for being the great imitator as it mimics other diseases, so once someone contracts it, they may not know they have it right away,” said Wake County Public Health Director Rebecca Kaufman. “This can be especially concerning for those who are pregnant and at risk of spreading it to their unborn child.”

Cases among infants who can become infected during pregnancy, referred to as congenital syphilis, jumped by about a third in 2021, leading to 220 stillbirths and infant deaths in the U.S.

All of the above-mentioned STIs are bacterial infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. The good news is that syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are CURABLE with treatment.

Anyone sexually active can get an STI, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender. The best way to reduce the spread of STIs is to get tested regularly and use a condom correctly each time when engaging in sexual activities.

Wake County's Public Health Clinics offers FREE testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections as well as counseling for those at risk.

Residents can make an appointment by calling 919-250-4410 or can walk in (walk ins are on a first come, first served basis).

To learn more about HIV and sexually transmitted infection offerings, as well as other healthcare options provided by Wake County Public Health, visit

The Wake County HIV/STD Community Program offers outreach and support, as well as a list of nontraditional testing locations in the community where county residents can receive the same testing services and free condoms.

Press Release