SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A case of monkeypox virus was confirmed Wednesday in an adult male who recently traveled to Canada, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
This marks the first case of monkeypox reported in the U.S. this year.
According to the Massachusetts DPH, the initial testing was completed late Tuesday at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain and confirmatory testing was completed the following day by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
DPH officials said the agency is working with the patient’s health care providers, the CDC and boards of health to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious.
In humans, according to the CDC, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox.
Monkeypox begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. The main difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, while smallpox does not. The incubation period, from infection to symptoms, for monkeypox is usually seven to 14 days but can range from five to 21 days.
WSAV NOW contacted Nancy Nydam, director of communications for the Georgia DPH, about what the Peach State should know.
“Smallpox vaccine is not currently available to the general public. In the event of another outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S., CDC will establish guidelines explaining who should be vaccinated,” she said.
Nydam added that 43 individuals were monitored for monkeypox in Georgia last year.
“Individuals who were potentially exposed to monkeypox were monitored for symptoms for 14 days from last date of exposure,” she said.
“During that two-week period, individuals were in daily contact with epidemiologists. They were provided a list of symptoms to monitor for and told to report to DPH any changes in their health that might be an indication of monkeypox infection,” Nydam continued.
In parts of central and west Africa where monkeypox occurs, people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.
Transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.) or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.
According to the CDC, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research (hence the name “monkeypox”).
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.
Visit the CDC’s website, linked here, for more information on monkeypox.