The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking more than 200 people in Massachusetts who were in contact with the first confirmed monkeypox patient in the U.S., the New York Post reports.
The CDC also released a level-2 travel alert over the spread of the virus on Monday, advising people to “practice enhanced precautions,” while warning that the rare disease is fatal in up to 11% of people who become infected.
According to the CDC, symptoms include fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash. Skin lesions generally develop at the same time and progress through several stages on any part of the body before falling off. Patients are usually ill for two to four weeks.
On Monday, CDC officials said an unidentified Massachusetts man who had recently returned to the United States from Canada remains the only confirmed monkeypox case in the country.
Other suspected cases, including one in Florida and one in New York City, are still officially listed as orthopoxvirus cases, the family of viruses that monkeypox belongs to, the CDC said.
All of the suspected cases in the U.S. are men who have a relevant travel history, CDC officials said.
According to the health authority, “some cases were reported among men who have sex with men,” and an adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) separately said that some cases might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two raves held in Europe.
Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said the Massachusetts patient is in isolation at Massachusetts General Hospital and health officials there “have been tracking over 200 contacts.”
While contract tracing efforts included the patient’s personal contacts, the Boston Herald reported that McQuiston identified “the vast majority of them” as “healthcare workers.”
The U.S. currently has approximately 1,000 doses of the approved smallpox and monkeypox vaccine Jynneos, “and you can expect that level to ramp up very quickly in the coming weeks,” McQuiston said.
“Right now we are hoping to maximize vaccine distribution to those that we know would benefit from it,” she said. “Those are people who’ve had contacts with a known monkeypox patient, healthcare workers, very close personal contacts, and those in particular who might be at high risk for severe disease.”
The CDC’s travel alert stressed, in bold, that travelers should avoid “close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions,” as well as “contact with dead or live wild animals.”
The alert listed 16 countries where monkeypox has been confirmed as of Monday. All of the countries are outside of the areas in Africa where the disease has historically been found.
There have been 131 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide and an additional 106 suspected ones, the WHO said Tuesday.
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