A Massachusetts man was infected with smallpox in monkeys

A man who had traveled to Canada has been diagnosed with monkeypox virus, a rare and potentially fatal illness, 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 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.

Over the past few weeks, the UK has identified nine cases of smallpox in monkeys. Only one patient had recently traveled – to Nigeria, where a strain of monkeypox virus is commonly seen – while the rest of the British patients, who had not traveled, may have been infected by transmission in the community. Three patients live in the same household.

Spain has 23 suspected cases. Portugal has confirmed 5 cases and is investigating 15 more. Canadian health officials are investigating at least 15 possible cases in Montreal, according to an infectious disease expert who is familiar with the effort but is not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

“The reality is that in the UK with many unrelated clusters, plus Spain and Portugal, was a surprise.

Monkeypox is a more benign version of the smallpox virus and can be treated with antiviral drugs developed for smallpox. But unlike measles, Covid, or the flu, monkeypox usually doesn’t cause major outbreaks.

Dr Inglesby said: “Clinicians should be aware of symptoms so that new cases can be detected quickly.

Smallpox in monkeys begins with fever and body aches. Its most recognizable feature is the characteristic rash that begins with flat red spots that then rise and become filled with pus.

The pustules appear on the face, chest and on the palms, “slightly unusual,” says Dr. Inglesby.

The virus is endemic to parts of Central and West Africa and can be spread through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals. Exposure to live and dead animals through hunting and consumption of game or bushmeat are known risk factors, according to the World Health Organization.

The US has seen an outbreak of smallpox in monkeys of dozens of cases in 2003. All were attributed to contact with infected prairie dogs and other pets.

The virus does not spread from person to person, but can be spread through bodily fluids, contaminated objects, or through respiratory droplets released by an infected person. Cases reported in the UK and in Canada have mainly been in men who have sex with men.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Service, said: “These latest cases, along with case reports in countries across Europe, confirm Our initial concerns were that there might be a spread of monkeypox in our community. in a statement on Tuesday. “This is rare and unusual.”

Experts say men in these communities should watch for rashes or lesions on any part of the body, especially the genitals.

Health officials in Massachusetts are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the patient’s healthcare providers to identify individuals who may have been exposed when he is being infected, officials said in a statement.

Officials said the individual was hospitalized and in good condition.

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