The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with Massachusetts health officials in an investigation into a smallpox case, the agency said Wednesday.
The case of “monkeypox” has been confirmed in a man in the state who recently traveled to Canada, Massachusetts health officials said earlier in the day.
The patient is in stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Dr. Paul Biddinger, at a press conference. The man has been in an infection isolation room since last Thursday (12).
“This patient, thankfully, is doing very well now, although he has symptoms that require hospitalization,” said Dr. Erica Shenoy.
Biddinger said he wasn’t sure how the patient got infected, but emphasized “that historically, it’s a very rare disease, with very rare transmission across the world. What we’ve seen in the UK, Spain and Europe has been new and that worries us, but I think fittingly, people shouldn’t be afraid now.”
The current patient “does not pose a public health risk,” the doctor said, adding that people should “be aware of the symptoms, but not be afraid.”
Shenoy, medical director of the Special and Emerging Pathogens Treatment Center, said the man has the West African strain of smallpox, which is known to be less severe.
Health authorities are conducting patient contact tracing, Shenoy added. Testing of the individual was completed for the first time at the state’s public health lab on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the CDC confirmed the case through its own tests.
Canadian health officials said no smallpox cases have been reported to the country’s Public Health Agency.
Infections reported worldwide
The CDC says it is also tracking several smallpox cases that have been reported in the past two weeks in a number of countries that do not normally report the disease, including Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.
“It is unclear how people in these groups were exposed to smallpox, but the cases include individuals who identify as men who have sex with men,” the agency said in a press release.
“Many of these global monkeypox case reports are taking place within sexual networks. However, healthcare professionals should be alert to any rash that has typical features of monkeypox,” said Dr. Inger Damon, director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens.
The agency says people who may have symptoms of monkeypox and those who have close contact with them should contact their doctor if they have unusual skin rashes or lesions. Symptoms may also include swollen lymph nodes and fever.
The disease is a rare but dangerous infection similar to the now-eradicated smallpox virus. It is usually contracted from a rodent or small mammal and does not spread easily from one person to another.
However, the “monkeypox” virus can be spread through contact with bodily fluids, wounds, or items such as clothing and bedding that have been contaminated with the virus. It can also spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, usually in an enclosed environment, according to the CDC.
The Massachusetts case is the first reported case in the US this year. The first known case of “monkeypox” associated with travel in the country involved a man who traveled from Nigeria to Texas in July 2021. A second case in the US was identified later that year, also involving a traveler from Nigeria.
Source: CNN Brasil