First US case of monkeypox found in Massachusetts

Small outbreaks of the viral disease have been reported in Europe and Canada

Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Massachusetts on Wednesday reported a rare case of monkeypox in a man who recently travelled to Canada, and health officials are looking into whether it is connected to small outbreaks in Europe.

Monkeypox is typically limited to Africa, and rare cases in the US and elsewhere are usually linked to travel there. A small number of confirmed or suspected cases have been reported this month in the UK, Portugal and Spain.

Monkeypox: everything you need to know

Monkeypox: everything you need to know

US health officials said they are in contact with officials in the UK and Canada as part of the investigation. But “at this point in time, we don’t have any information that links the Massachusetts case to cases in the UK”, said Jennifer McQuiston of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I do think we are preparing for the possibility of more cases,” though it is the only US case the CDC is aware of, she said.

The US case poses no risk to the public, and the Massachusetts resident is in hospital but in a stable condition, officials said.

The man travelled to Canada at the end of April to meet friends and returned in early May, Dr McQuiston said. A CDC statement said he used private transport.

The case is the first in the US this year.

Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who had travelled to Nigeria.

Monkeypox typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body. In Africa, people have been infected through bites from rodents or other small animals, and it does not usually spread easily among people.

But investigators in Europe say most of the cases have been in gay or bisexual men, and officials are looking into the possibility that some infections were spread through close contact during sex.

Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, according to the World Health Organisation.

Updated: May 23, 2022, 4:06 AM