The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported on Wednesday that a man who had traveled to Canada had contracted the monkeypox virus, a rare and potentially deadly disease.
This is the first report by MonkeyPix in the United States this year. Texas and Maryland officials recorded one case each last year. But the new case follows a series of unusual clusters in other countries that have begun to alert public health officials.
In the past few weeks, Britain has identified nine monkeypox cases. Only one patient recently traveled – to Nigeria, where a strain of the monkeypox virus is commonly seen – while the rest of the British patients, who have not traveled, can become infected through community transmission. Three patients shared a family.
There are 23 suspected cases in Spain. Portugal has confirmed five cases and is investigating 15 more Canadian health officials are investigating at least 15 possible cases in Montreal, according to an infectious disease specialist who was familiar with the effort but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: “It’s a wonderful thing that there are so many unrelated clusters in the UK, Portugal with Spain.
Monkeypox is a more benign version of the smallpox virus and can be treated with an antiviral drug made for smallpox. But unlike measles, mumps or influenza, monkeypox usually does not cause major outbreaks.
Physicians should be aware of the symptoms so that they can quickly identify new cases, Dr. Inglesby said.
Monkeypox infections begin with fever and body aches. Its most recognizable feature is a characteristic rash that starts with a flattened red spot, then fills with pus.
Pus appears on the face, chest and palms of the hands, “which is somewhat unusual,” said Dr. Inglesby.
The virus is endemic in some parts of Central and West Africa and can be spread by the bite or scratch of rats and small mammals. According to the World Health Organization, contact with living and dead animals is a risk factor through hunting and eating wild game or bush meat.
The United States saw an outbreak of a monkeypox in dozens of cases in 2003. All are believed to have been caused by contact with infected prairie dogs and other pets.
The virus does not spread to humans but can be spread through body fluids, contaminants or respiratory droplets expelled by an infected person. The cases reported in the UK and Canada are mostly among men who have sex with men.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency, said in a statement: “These recent cases, along with reports from countries across Europe, confirm our initial concern that monkeypox may be spreading in our community.” On tuesday. “It’s rare and unusual.”
Men in this community should monitor for rashes or sores on any part of their body, especially the genitals, experts say.
Massachusetts health officials are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and patient healthcare providers to identify individuals who may be in contact during an outbreak, officials said in a statement.
The man was hospitalized and in good condition, officials said.