Monkeypox May Have Made Its Way to 2nd US State

Massachusetts had already reported a case of rare disease; now, a suspected case in New York City
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2022 7:54 AM CDT
NYC Investigates Possible Monkeypox Case
This 2003 electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.   (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

(Newser) – The UK, Portugal, and Spain have all recently reported a small number of confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox, and on Wednesday, Massachusetts phoned in its own report, as officials tried to see if it was linked with the ones overseas. Now, a possible second case in another US city: New York, where health officials say a patient is currently isolated at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital after showing up there Thursday, reports the New York Times. Samples from the patient will head first to the city's public-health lab, then to the CDC for confirmation if there's a positive result, health authorities say.

The rare viral disease, a tamer, less-infectious relative of smallpox, is typically contracted by animals or humans who touch rodents or other small animals, or who've been bitten by one. Monkeypox generally starts with flulike symptoms—fever, chills, muscle aches—and lymph node swelling, followed by a rash on the face and body. The illness usually lasts between two to four weeks, and most people recover, though a more serious strain can be fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, per the World Health Organization. Cases are usually documented in Central and West Africa, and it's not known to spread easily among people—which is why cases popping up around the world, with "sustained" transmission and no links to travel in Africa, is "striking," according to a University of Oxford professor of evolution and genomics who spoke with the Washington Post.

"It's either a lot of bad luck or something quite unusual happening here," Aris Katzourakis tells the paper. Regarding the latest development in New York City, health authorities say they're going to contact-trace and let people who've been exposed to the patient know what's going on. Meanwhile, in Europe, more possible new cases are being investigated, including in Belgium, France, and Germany, and Australia is looking into its own reports, per the BBC. Italy, Sweden, and Canada—the latter of which has had more than a dozen suspected cases reported in the Montreal area—have also had cases confirmed. The Post has a lot more here, including on monkeypox's previous appearances in the US (yes, it's been here before) and how worried we should be. (Read more monkeypox stories.)

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