Massachusetts health officials announced Wednesday that they had confirmed a case of monkeypox, the first case of the rare virus identified in the United States in 2022..
The Department of Public Health said the infection was found in an adult male who had recently traveled to Canada, and health officials are investigating whether it is linked to recent small outbreaks in Europe. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital said the patient had no history of travel to areas with high levels of smallpox.
Monkeypox is generally found in Africa, and rare cases in the US and elsewhere are often linked to travel there.
DPH is working to identify people who may have been in contact with the man while he was infectious.
Authorities say this case poses no risk to the general public.
The man, a Massachusetts resident, is hospitalized at Mass. General Hospital since May 12. He is isolated and in stable condition. The hospital said the disease is so rare that it took six days to diagnose it, with help from the CDC.
The DPH said that monkeypox can resemble the initial symptoms of the flu and turn into lesions that spread throughout the body. Most infections last between two and four weeks. However, health officials said that smallpox does not spread easily and the reason they are paying so much attention to this case is because it was not transmitted through contact with an animal or during travel, but apparently through human contact.
“Really now, human-to-human transmission has actually occurred through close contact, usually contaminated bedding or, more or less, clothing contaminated with the lesions,” said Dr. Sarimer Sanchez, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Boston Public Health Commission.
The CDC is tracking several groups of monkey pox that have been reported in the last two weeks in Portugal, Spain and the UK. These countries typically do not report monkeypox.
According to the CDC, “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 United States identified two cases of monkeypox in 2021, inand of people who recently went to Nigeria.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.