- Monkeypox is a rare disease in the same family of viruses as smallpox.
- Monkeypox infections occur primarily in Central and Western African countries and have only rarely been seen outside of Africa.
- In a November 17 media statement, the CDC
announceda confirmed case of the disease in a Maryland resident who recently returned from travel to Nigeria.
- This is the second case of the monkeypox discovered in the United States this year.
What Is monkeypox?
According to the
“Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline.
He explained that while it “typically” leads to a milder infection than smallpox, the virus could be spread between people through direct contact with monkeypox lesions, body fluids, or even contaminated materials like clothing or linens.
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) confirms that most monkeypox infections can last 2 to 4 weeks. People possibly exposed to the virus will be monitored for signs of infection for about 3 weeks after exposure.
In a November 17 media statement, the CDC
The agency also said they are working with international health counterparts, the airline, and state and local health officials in the Washington, DC area to identify everyone who may have been in contact with the patient.
According to Glatter, human monkeypox infections occur primarily in Central and Western African countries and have only rarely been seen outside of Africa.
“While all strains can cause infection, the strains circulating in western Africa generally cause less severe disease,” he said.
The last U.S. monkeypox outbreak occurred in 2003 following an importation of exotic pets from Africa. The virus first caused infections in non-African captive species, including prairie dogs, before affecting people.
All people who developed the
Human-to-human infection happens through aerosols, similar to COVID-19.
“While it may also be spread through large respiratory droplets, which generally can’t travel more than 1 to 3 feet, prolonged face-to-face contact is typically required for transmission to occur,” said Glatter.
Monkeypox virus was first
It wasn’t until 1970 that the first human case of monkeypox was identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The natural reservoir of monkeypox is currently unknown,” said Glatter. “But a number of African rodent species are believed to play a role in transmission.”
“Since 2017, 218 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria and 8 cases have been reported in international travelers from Nigeria, including a case in Texas in July 2021 and the current case,” the agency said in a
The CDC warns U.S. healthcare professionals to be “vigilant to poxvirus-like lesions, particularly among travelers returning from Nigeria.”
Also, because of the health risks associated with even a single case of monkeypox, they should immediately report suspected cases to state or local public health authorities “regardless of whether they are also exploring other potential diagnoses.”
Two distinct varieties of the monkeypox have been identified: the Congo Basin and the West African types, according to the
There is currently no standard
“Our current understanding rests largely on case series and individual case reports,” researchers
Monkeypox is a virus first identified in Africa that is related to smallpox, a disease eradicated worldwide in 1977.
Experts say respiratory droplets transmit the virus that causes the infection, and while potentially serious, the virus strains circulating in western Africa generally cause a less severe infection.
They also say that smallpox vaccine offers effective protection against monkeypox infection, although the vaccine is presently unavailable to the public.