A case of monkeypox has been confirmed in a Maryland resident who has recently returned to the United States from Nigeria.
Scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they are working with the Maryland Department of Health and other health partners to investigate further.
“Late yesterday, CDC laboratory scientists confirmed that the patient had monkeypox and that the infection is consistent with the strain that has resurfaced in Nigeria since 2017. The person is currently isolated in Maryland,” the CDC wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
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The Department of Health said in a statement that the person had mild symptoms and is not hospitalized.
Officials noted that the general public does not need to take any special precautions.
The CDC said it is also working with international health counterparts, the airline and state and local health officials in the Washington area to reach airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient.
“Passengers on the flight to the United States had to wear masks on the plane as well as at U.S. airports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is believed that the risk of spreading monkeypox virus by respiratory droplets to others on the aircraft “Working with an airline and state and local health partners, CDC is assessing potential risks for those who may have had close contact with the passenger on the plane and upon their arrival in the United States,” the agency added.
“Public health authorities have identified and continue to monitor those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, deputy secretary of public health for the Maryland Department of Health, said in a statement. “Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure.”
Healthcare providers in the United States should be alert to variovirus-like lesions, especially among travelers returning from Nigeria.
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Clinicians should report any suspected cases immediately to state or local public health authorities regardless of whether they are also investigating other possible diagnoses.
Monkeypox, which is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, can be spread by direct contact with injuries or body fluids, or contaminated materials such as clothing or large respiratory droplets.
The rare but possibly serious viral disease generally causes a milder infection than smallpox.
The disease typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, progressing to a generalized rash on the face and body.
People who may have been exposed in this case will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after exposure.
Human smallpox infections mainly occur in central and West African countries.
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The CDC said the disease resurfaced in Nigeria in 2017, after more than 40 years with no reported cases.
Since then, 218 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria and eight cases have been reported in international travelers from Nigeria, including the current cases and one in Texas last July.
The Associated Press contributed to this report