Just days after an unusual cluster of rare monkeypox viruses appeared in Europe, New York City health authorities announced Thursday that they were investigating possible cases of the rare disease.
Authorities have said little about the patient, who is currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital, the city health department said in a statement. The patient arrived at the hospital on Thursday, according to an official.
The patient’s samples will be sent to the city’s public health lab for initial testing, and if positive, the samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm whether the disease is actually monkeypox, according to health authorities. .
The news comes a day after a man was diagnosed with the disease in Massachusetts. He recently traveled to Canada, which is currently investigating more than 15 suspected cases in and around Montreal.
Monkeypox clusters have recently been identified in Britain and Portugal, while Spain is investigating suspected cases of the virus. Sweden and Italy reported the case on Thursday. Patients in Britain and Canada are mostly men who have sex with men.
Monkeypox, according to the CDC, can be spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets, as well as through contact with body fluids and wounds known for the virus. It can also spread through contaminants.
Viral disease is associated with smallpox, but it is milder and less contagious. It does not usually cause large outbreaks.
The first outbreak in the United States occurred about 20 years ago and probably infected about 47 people. It is believed to have started by importing infected squirrels and other rats from Ghana. They in turn infected the prairie dogs that were later sold as pets.
Infected people usually experience fever and body aches before developing a characteristic rash. The red bumps turn into pus-filled blisters that rise to the top. The disease can be treated with an antiviral drug.
City health authorities said Thursday that investigators will try to identify people who recently contacted the patient in Bellevue.