A Massachusetts man is the first U.S. resident to be diagnosed with monkeypox this year, following clusters of confirmed cases in Canada and Europe.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), the man tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, May 18, after recently traveling to Canada. MDPH stated, “The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.”
CNN reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring six other people who sat near an individual exhibiting symptoms in early May while on an international flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom. They had no symptoms as of Friday, May 20, and were considered low risk of contracting the disease.
Additionally, the New York City Health Department announced Thursday, May 19, that it was testing a patient at Bellevue Hospital who may be infected.
Monkeypox is considered a very rare disease outside of West and Central Africa. However, clusters of cases have been identified in Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Northern Ireland, and Spain in recent weeks.
CDC official Jennifer McQuiston told CNN, “The number of cases that are being reported is definitely outside the level of normal for what we would see. At the same time, there really aren’t that many cases that are being reported… so, the general public should not be concerned that they are at immediate risk for monkeypox.”
Both the CDC and UK Health Security Agency have announced that a significant number of confirmed cases outside of Africa are confirmed to have been contracted by “people who self-identify as men who have sex with men.”
UKHSA advised individuals “to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.”
While not usually thought of as a sexually-transmitted disease, monkeypox can be transmitted through direct contact during sex.
According to the CDC, human-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus occurs “primarily through large respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required. Other human-to-human transmission methods include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.”