A CASE of the deadly viral infection monkeypox has been confirmed in a Maryland resident who recently traveled back to the US from Nigeria, officials say.
The patient, a man who has not been named, currently has only minor symptoms, the Maryland Health Department said in a news release.
He is currently recovering in isolation at home and has not been hospitalized.
No special precautions are recommended at this time for the general public, according to local health officials.
"Public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual," Dr Jinlene Chan, MDH deputy secretary for public health, said in a statement.
"Our response in close coordination with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure."
It remains unclear where the person lives in the state of Maryland.
SECOND US CASE THIS YEAR
Monkeypox symptoms start with a fever, headache, and muscle aches. The virus can also lead to a rash that spreads over the body.
Infections have only been documented six times outside of Africa.
The last outbreak in the US came in 2003 when 47 cases were linked to a shipment of pet prairie dogs from Ghana.
During that outbreak, all those infected were treated with the smallpox vaccine and nobody died.
Since then, the CDC logged just one other case of monkeypox in the US.
In that incident, the patient, from Dallas, Texas, had also recently traveled to Nigeria.
A report by the World Health Organization said the patient traveled from the US to Lagos State, Nigeria on 25 June and also stayed in Ibadan, Oyo State, from 29 June to 3 July.
"He developed self-reported fever, vomiting, and mild cough on 30 June, and a painful genital rash on 7 July. The case-patient returned to the USA, departing Lagos on 8 July and arriving on 9 July," the report said.
"He developed a facial rash the next day. On 13 July, the patient attended a local hospital; fever was documented, and he was immediately placed under isolation."
More than 200 people in 27 states who may have had contact with the Texan were tracked by the CDC for potential exposure, but no other cases were discovered.
Passengers who sat near the person on the Atlanta-Dallas flight were deemed to have had too short of an exposure to be at risk.
Nigeria suffered an outbreak of monkeypox between 2017 and 2019, with cases still being reported today.
In addition to Nigeria, outbreaks have also been reported in nine other countries in central and western Africa since 1970.
In 2020, over 6200 suspected cases were reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sporadic outbreaks among humans have occurred in other countries such as Cameroon or the Central African Republic.
According to WHO, the monkeypox virus has similar features to the more dangerous human smallpox – hence its name.
It was first discovered in 1958 among laboratory monkeys before tests later found evidence of infection in various rodent species.
More than 30 cases of the virus were reported in the animals at the time – but none of the creatures died and there was no spread from monkeys to humans.
The first human case of the viral zoonotic disease was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a nine-year-old boy.
SYMPTOMS OF VIRUS
The virus spreads through close physical contact and infiltrates the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets, or contaminated objects.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.
A rash can then develop, which spreads before eventually developing into oozing scabs that then fall off. If the rash spreads to the eyes it can cause blindness.
Symptoms generally last from 14 to 21 days, with severe cases relating to age, the extent of virus exposure, the patient's health, and the severity of complications.
It has a mortality rate of between one in 100 people, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
Cases have also been reported in Israel, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. The UK confirmed another three cases in 2021.
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