Las Vegas Strip Could Be Source of Monkeypox Virus Found in Vegas Wastewater

Posted on: August 2, 2022, 09:45h. 

Last updated on: August 2, 2022, 02:06h.

The monkeypox virus has been detected in wastewater from the Las Vegas Strip and at least one regional treatment plant. There are now 23 probable and confirmed cases of the illness in Clark County residents, according to the local health district.

One monkeypox patient, Matt Ford, shows monkeypox rash
One monkeypox patient, Matt Ford, shows his monkeypox rash in a TikTok video, pictured above. The Los Angeles resident is urging those at risk to get the vaccine and is criticizing the CDC’s response. (Image: TikTok)

The wastewater includes water flowing from casinos and hotels on the Strip and other regional locations. It may come from toilets, sinks, or showers. It is unknown if the detected virus in the wastewater came from locals, workers, or tourists.

People infected with monkeypox excrete the DNA from the virus through things like saliva, feces and urine. This can then enter wastewater through drains, sinks and toilets.

As of Aug. 1, there had been 23 probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox in Clark County, according to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). 

Vaccinations for the disease are available, but they’re in limited supply. Some 400 people in the region so far received the monkeypox vaccine in the past week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, citing data from SNHD officials. The vaccine, known as Jynneos, is given to those most at risk for getting the virus.

“We are providing information to the public about the symptoms of monkeypox and steps they can take to protect themselves and others,” Stephanie Bethel, a spokesperson for the SNHD, said. “We are also offering appointments to those who are most at risk and will expand availability of the vaccine when more resources become available.”

Infection Rate Discrepancies

But the wastewater detection of the virus is not necessarily a cause for concern.

It is not unexpected that diseases circulating in the community, including monkeypox, are detected in wastewater,” Bethel told

The virus is likely inactive when it enters the wastewater, Edwin Oh, a professor at the UNLV Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, confirmed to But the infection rate may be higher than the current numbers show.

The viral levels are currently low from our readings, suggesting that high transmission is not occurring in Las Vegas,” Oh added. “Because infected individuals (who may be asymptomatic or symptomatic) will shed the virus, the actual number of infected people may be higher than the reported numbers.”

Oh notes that there have only been 14 infected individuals in the entire state of Nevada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The local data has yet to reach the CDC.

Monkeypox Transmission, Symptoms

Monkeypox typically comes from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Monkeypox can be transmitted through sexual contact, too. It can be painful and occasionally is fatal.

Often, it begins with a flu-like illness, then a rash appears. Among its symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes, and chills, the SNHD said. The rash looks like a pimple- or fluid-filled blisters on the hands, feet, chest, face, genitals, or inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus, the health district added.

It often takes about seven to 14 days after exposure to develop monkeypox. Monkeypox typically lasts for two to four weeks.

Public health officials are monitoring the virus locally and nationally.

The current numbers in the US have been growing at a high rate over the last two months,” Oh said. “Our goal is to be vigilant and track this virus before it leads to an explosion in infections.”

Oh firmly advises anyone with symptoms needs to contact a health professional.

San Francisco, New York City Cases

Last week, San Francisco announced a public health emergency because of the increasing number of cases of monkeypox. On Saturday, New York City also announced a public health emergency because of the virus.

New York City is now being called the “epicenter” of the monkeypox outbreak. Up to 150,000 New York City residents could be at risk of exposure to the virus, news reports said. As of Tuesday, there are 1,512 cases in New York City, according to health department data.

As in Nevada, New York CDC data lags behind data released by local health departments. The CDC reports New York State has 1,390 cases. California has 827 cases. Nationally, there are 5,811 monkeypox cases, the CDC reported.

Monkeypox was seen in Africa for decades. Since May, close to 24,000 monkeypox cases have been found in some 80 countries.

In total, monkeypox has led to 75 deaths in Nigeria, Congo, and elsewhere in Africa, as well as in Brazil, India, and Spain. The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency.