A health officer uses a thermal head to detect monkeypox virus in passengers arriving at Sukarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang near Jakarta, Indonesia, on May 15, 2019.
Jepayona Delita | Publishing House of the Future Getty Images
Late Wednesday, U.S. health officials confirmed a monkey case of smallpox in Massachusetts, the first in the country reported this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Massachusetts health officials are investigating a case that was discovered in a man who recently traveled to Canada.
The patient is hospitalized and in “good condition,” and officials are working to find people who could have been in contact with him when he was infectious, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said. The agency stressed that the case does not pose a risk to the population.
Monkeypox is a “rare but potentially serious viral disease” that begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, according to Massachusetts officials. The infection eventually progresses and includes a rash on the body and face and usually lasts two to four weeks.
According to the CDC, the virus reappeared in Nigeria in 2017 after four decades without a single confirmed case. Since then, 450 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Nigeria and at least eight more have been reported internationally, the public health agency said.
Last year, Texas and Maryland reported cases in people who recently traveled to Nigeria, according to Massachusetts officials.
In the last two weeks, more cases have appeared around the world, including in Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to the CDC. It is unclear how people in these countries have been exposed to monkeypox, but the agency noted that the cases involve men who have sex with men.
The CDC has urged clinicians to monitor patients with rashes that coincide with monkeypox, regardless of their sexual orientation and whether or not they have traveled. According to the agency, people suspected of having the virus should be isolated in a negative pressure room – rooms used to isolate patients – and staff should wear appropriate personal protective equipment around them.
“Many of these global reports of monkey cases occur on sexual networks. However, health professionals should be alert to any rash that has features specific to monkeypox,” said Inger Damon, director of the CDC’s Department of Pathogens and Pathologies. high consequences. , in a statement.
“We ask the public to contact their healthcare professional if they have a new rash and they are concerned about monkeypox,” Damon added.
The CDC said the virus could be spread through contact with body fluids, human ulcers with monkeypox and common objects that have been infected with the virus. Smallpox in monkeys can also spread through respiratory drops in close conditions, such as in the same family, the agency said.
Conventional household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus, the CDC added.