Monkeypox virus identified in Massachusetts

·2 min read

BOSTON - Massachusetts health officials announced Wednesday that they have confirmed a case of monkeypox, the first case of the rare virus identified in the United States in 2022.

The Department of Public Health said the infection was found in an adult man who recently traveled to Canada. They say this case poses no risk to the general public.

The man, a Massachusetts resident, has been hospitalized at Mass. General Hospital since May 12. He is in isolation at the hospital and is in stable condition. The hospital said because the disease is so rare, it took six days to diagnose him with the help of the CDC.

The DPH is working to identify people who may have been in contact with the man while he was infectious.

Mass. General Hospital doctors said the patient traveled to Canada but did not have a travel history to areas with high levels of monkeypox.

DPH said monkeypox can resemble early flu-like symptoms and turn into lesions that spread on the body. Most infections last between two and four weeks. However, health officials said monkeypox is not easily spread and the reason they are giving so much attention to this case is because it was not transmitted through contact with an animal or through travel with high cases of monkeypox, but through human-to-human contact.

"Really right now, human-to-human transmission really has occurred through close contact, generally speaking. And that is close contact via respiratory droplets and prolonged face-to-face contact, as well as direct contact through lesions or in direct contact through contaminated bedding or, sort of, clothing contaminated with the lesions," said Dr. Sarimer Sanchez, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau for the Boston Public Health Commission.

The CDC is tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported within the past two weeks in Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. These countries do not normally report monkeypox.

According to the CDC, "It's not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkeypox but cases include individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men."

The United States identified two cases of monkeypox in Texas and Maryland in 2021 from people who had recent travel to Nigeria.

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