The first American case of the rare virus monkeypox has been discovered in Massachusetts and may have originated in Canada.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced this week that an adult male contracted the rare disease after recently traveling to Canada, though the exact source of the virus remains unknown. Fortunately, the infection poses little to no risk to the broader public.
“The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition,” MDPH stated in a press release. “DPH is working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient’s health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious.”
As many as four cases of the monkeypox have been identified in the United Kingdom recently. According to ABC News, the monkeypox is a rare disease that was first detected among humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Though it sometimes spreads to other nations, the disease is mostly located in central and western Africa. It often transmits from animals (primates or rodents) to humans through a bite or scratch. Per ABC News:
The disease can also spread from person to person via large respiratory droplets in the air, but they cannot travel more than a few feet, so two people would need to have prolonged close contact. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Very few cases of monkeypox have been identified among Americans.
According to the CDC, the disease does not naturally occur in the U.S. Infections are usually identified among people who recently traveled to countries where monkeypox is more commonly found. In 2003, 47 confirmed and probable cases were reported in six U.S. states, the first human cases reported outside of Africa.
The last two U.S. cases of the monkeypox occurred in July 2021 when a Texas resident returned from Nigeria and in November 2021 after a Maryland resident traveled to Nigeria.