A Massachusetts man is infected with monkeypox

A man who had traveled to Canada has been diagnosed with monkeypox virus, a rare and life-threatening disease, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported Wednesday.

This is the first report of monkeypox this year in the United States. Officials in Texas and Maryland each recorded one case last year. But the new case follows a series of unusual clusters in other countries that have begun to alarm public health officials.

In recent weeks, Britain has identified nine cases of monkeypox. Only one patient had recently traveled, to Nigeria, where a strain of monkeypox virus has been commonly seen, while the remaining British patients, who did not travel, may have acquired the infection through community transmission. Three patients shared a household.

Spain has 23 suspected cases. Portugal has confirmed five cases and is investigating another 15. 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 the matter publicly.

“The fact that it is in the UK in multiple unrelated groups, in addition to Spain and Portugal, is a surprise,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in the School of Health. Public Bloomberg.

Monkeypox is a more benign version of the smallpox virus and can be treated with an antiviral drug developed for smallpox. But unlike measles, covid, or influenza, monkeypox doesn’t usually cause large outbreaks.

Doctors need to be aware of the symptoms so they can quickly spot new cases, Dr. Inglesby said.

Monkeypox infection begins with a fever and body aches. Its most recognizable feature is a characteristic rash that begins with flat red marks, then rises and fills with pus.

The pustules appear on the face, chest and palm of the hand, “which is somewhat unusual,” said Dr. Inglesby.

The virus is endemic in parts of central and western Africa and can be spread through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals. According to the World Health Organization, contact with live and dead animals through hunting and consumption of wild animals or bushmeat are known risk factors.

The United States saw a monkeypox outbreak of dozens of cases in 2003. All are believed to have resulted from exposure to infected prairie dogs and other pets.

The virus does not jump between people, but can spread through body fluids, contaminated objects, or respiratory droplets expelled from an infected person. The reported cases in Britain and Canada were mainly among men who have sex with men.

“These latest cases, along with case reports from countries across Europe, confirm our initial concerns that monkeypox could spread within our communities,” said Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency. on Tuesday. “This is rare and unusual.”

Men in those communities should be on the lookout for rashes or lesions anywhere on the body, especially the genitals, experts said.

Massachusetts health officials are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the patient’s health care providers to identify people they may have come into contact with while they were infectious, officials said in a statement. release.

The individual is hospitalized and in fair condition, authorities said.

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