The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in the United States, according to a press release from the CDC Health Alert Network.
On May 17, skin lesions that had several features suspicious for monkeypoxincluding lesionson a Massachusetts resident prompted specialized Laboratory Response Network (LRN) testing of swab specimens collected from the resident; preliminary testing confirmed the presence of DNA consistent with an orthopoxvirus using Orthopoxvirus generic and non-variola Orthopoxvirus real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays.
According to a separate release from the CDC, the agency is also tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that have been reported within the past two weeks in several countries that do not normally report monkeypox, including Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. 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 CDC is urging healthcare providers in the United States to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox.
Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox virus can also spread between people through respiratory droplets typically in a close setting, such as the same household or a healthcare setting. Common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.
The agency said that people who may have symptoms of monkeypoxparticularly men who report sex with other men, and those who have close contact with themshould be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and contact their healthcare provider for a risk assessment.
According to mass.gov, monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes; it then progresses to a rash on the face and body.
Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization.
In a statement, Chicago's Howard Brown Health said, "Howard Brown Health is closely monitoring for monkeypox in our Chicago communities. Recent evidence from outside the U.S. may suggest that there is a limited community spread [among] gay and bisexual men. Monkeypox is often associated with recent travel, but that is not the case with what we are seeing in Europe. However, monkeypox is not easily transmittable, and community spread is currently limited. Howard Brown primary care providers are taking precautions and will be screening patients for monkeypox who present possible symptoms."