First case of monkeypox in US this year confirmed in Massachusetts

BOSTON — Massachusetts health officials on Wednesday confirmed a case of monkeypox, the first instance of the virus in the U.S. this year.

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In a news release, the Massachusetts Department of Health said that a man who had recently traveled to Canada contracted the virus. Testing was completed on Tuesday at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain and confirmatory testing was completed Wednesday at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease can be fatal to 10% of people contracting the virus, the CDC said.

“The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition,” the agency said in a statement.

The virus is a rare but potentially serious illness, WFXT-TV reported. It typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes before progressing to a rash on the face and body, according to the Massachusetts DPH.

Most infections last between two to four weeks, according to health officials.

>> What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms?

According to the CDC, two cases of monkeypox were reported in the U.S. in 2021.

The first was confirmed on July 15, 2021, by the Texas Department of State Health Services, according to the CDC. An American citizen who traveled from Nigeria to the U.S. on two commercial flights was found to have the virus. Health officials identified more than 200 people who had possibly been exposed to the patient, but after 21 days there were no additional cases identified.

A second case in the U.S. was identified on Nov. 16, 2021, in Maryland, according to a news release from the Maryland Department of Health. It also involved a person traveling from Nigeria to the U.S., the CDC said.

Since early May 2022, the United Kingdom has identified nine cases of monkeypox, according to the Massachusetts DPH. The first case involved a person who had returned from Nigeria, but the other eight cases did not, the agency said.

According to the CDC, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. The first human case of the virus was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2003 there were 47 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox across six U.S. states -- Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

All people infected with the virus that year became ill after having contact with pet prairie dogs and was the first time monkeypox had been reported outside of Africa, according to the Journal.