Health officials in Massachusetts have detected a monkeypox infection in a man who has recently returned from Canada.
Its Department of Health said the individual was hospitalized, but in a ‘good condition’. They are now tracing his close contacts.
It is the first confirmed infection with the virus in the U.S. this year, and comes a day after CDC officials said they were monitoring six potential cases.
These individuals sat within three rows of an infected patient on a flight from Nigeria to the UK on May 4, but the risk that they caught the virus remains ‘low’.
There appears to be no connection between these individuals and the case reported in Massachusetts. It is not clear how the man became infected.
There is a growing outbreak of monkeypox worldwide, with experts fearing the current case count could be just the tip of the iceberg.
There are 14 confirmed cases so far in Europe across the UK, Spain and Portugal. At least 24 people are also being probed for an infection.
The virus is more common in central and west Africa, where transmission generally results from direct contact with infected animals such as squirrels.
But the virus can also be spread via direct contact with infectious lesions in the skin, or from the coughs and sneezes of someone with a monkeypox rash.
Up to one in 10 cases are fatal, but the strain spreading globally is milder and thought to have a fatality rate of about one in 100 — similar to Covid’s at the start of the pandemic.
A total of 14 cases of monkeypox have been spotted outside West Africa in the global outbreak so far, with others being probed. There are seven in the UK, eight in Spain and five in Portugal. Most are linked to men who have sex with other men
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people. The tropical disease is endemic in parts of Africa and is known for its rare and unusual rashes, bumps and lesions (file photo)
Massachusetts health officials said the diagnosis was made late Tuesday following testing at the state laboratory in Jamaica Plain, in Boston.
The diagnosis was confirmed today by swabbing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr Jennifer McQuiston, a senior official at the CDC, warned late yesterday that it was considering issuing another health alert — similar to that for the hepatitis outbreak — for medical professionals.
She warned it was likely cases would reach the U.S. from the UK because of travel between the countries, and hidden transmission networks of the disease.
A number of cases have been detected among gay and bisexual men, with it likely passing on through contact with infectious skin lesions.
‘There’s a lot of travel between the U.K. and the United States and other global area,’ she said.
‘So I think our concern is that given that you do have four cases among men who have sex with men, that we probably need to be thinking about messaging to our STI clinics … about what to be on the lookout for, what to be alert for.’
Britain confirmed another two cases of monkeypox today in London and South East England.
It takes the nation’s total to nine infections, with cases predominately among men who have sex with other men.
America detected a case of monkeypox last year in a man who travelled from Nigeria to Texas.
The individual — who has not been named — was hospitalized with the virus, but later discharged.
The case led to the CDC monitoring more than 200 individuals for the virus in 27 states and other countries.
Another infection was also detected in Maryland.
McQuiston warned the UK’s cases could well be just the tip of the iceberg.
‘You have two clusters that have no link to travel or to other people who are known to be associated with a recognized outbreak,’ she said.
‘It suggests that there are unknown chains of transmission happening.
‘If there appears to be unknown chains of transmission, it just puts us on alert to be thinking: Could this be spreading outside the U.K.?’
Dr Amesh Adalja, an expert in emerging infectious diseases at John Hopkins School of Public Health, told DailyMail.com that the Americans on the plane would not have ‘necessarily’ caught the virus.
‘If they were just on the same plane, I don’t necessarily think you would see transmission,’ he said.
‘If they were next to the patient though, then this is more likely.’
In Britain, only one case has travel links back to Nigeria, where they likely caught the virus.
Two cases and one probable infection are linked to a family unit, while the other four cases have been detected in gay or bisexual men.
There is no connection between the groups and no suggestion that they had contact with the traveler, suggesting there may be an ‘unknown’ chain of transmission.
In Europe, Portugal has spotted five cases of the virus and is probing another 15 with all infections among mostly ‘young’ men. It is not yet clear how they caught the virus.
Spain is probing eight people — all gay and bisexual men — for the virus.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection normally linked to tropical areas in western and central Africa.
It tends to be spread through direct contact with animals such as squirrels, which are known to harbor the virus, but can also be passed on through very close contact with an infected person.
Although not normally sexually transmitted, it is also possible for it to be passed on during sex through direct contact with contagious lesions in the skin.
Those infected with the virus show symptoms within five and 21 days.
Only a handful of cases have been reported outside of Africa, and they are normally confined to people who have travelled to the continent.
People who catch the virus may suffer a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
More unusual symptoms include a rash that often begins on the face before spreading to other areas of the body.
Infections are normally mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks.
But in some cases it can turn deadly with one strain killing up to 10 percent of people it infects.
There is no specific treatment for infections with the virus but because of its close relationship to smallpox jabs against this disease provide some protection.
One vaccine — Jynneos — has been licensed to prevent monkeypox infections in the U.S.
The virus’ similarity to smallpox means jabs and drugs against it are also effective.
EVERYTHING you need to know about monkeypox: Strain ‘transmits through sex’ and is about as deadly as the Wuhan Covid variant — but a vaccine does exist
- Seven cases in UK could be tip of iceberg as health chiefs hunt for common link
- First time ever spreading in community and appears to be transmitting via sex
- Can kill one in 10 but milder strain is transmitting in UK, which kills one in 100
By: Connor Boyd Health Editor and Emily Craig Health Editor for Mail Online
Monkeypox appears to be spreading globally for the first time in an outbreak that has caught health officials off-guard.
The UK has recorded seven cases of the virus but the majority of them are not linked which suggests more are going undetected.
Spain and Portugal have also spotted the virus for the first time ever and the US is monitoring six people who were on a flight with a positive case.
The majority of patients in the UK are gay or bisexual men, as are the eight Spanish men suspected of having the disease.
Portuguese officials have confirmed five men tested positive and over a dozen more are thought to be infected.
Health chiefs in the UK say the pattern of transmission is ‘highly suggestive of spread in sexual networks’.
Until now monkeypox had only been detected in four countries outside of Africa — the UK, US, Israel and Singapore, all of whom had links to Nigeria and Ghana.
Infections are more common in central and western Africa, where they can result from direct contact with infected animals.
Monkeypox can kill up to one in 10 people it infects — but the strain spreading globally is milder and has a fatality rate of about one in 100.
That is roughly the same as the first strain of Covid that came out of Wuhan, however vaccines and natural immunity have since made the coronavirus much weaker.
Monkeypox’s similarity to smallpox means jabs and drugs against that virus are also effective.
Here is everything we know about the UK monkeypox outbreak so far:
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which people usually pick up in the tropical areas of west and central Africa.
It is usually spread through direct contact with animals such as squirrels, which are known to harbor the virus.
However, it can also be transmitted through very close contact with an infected person.
Monkeypox was first discovered when an outbreak of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research in 1958.
The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the infection has been reported in a number of central and western African countries since then.
Only a handful of cases have been reported outside of Africa and they were confined to people with travel links to the continent.
How deadly is it?
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. Yet, the disease can prove fatal.
Monkeypox kills up to 10 percent of people it infects.
However, with milder strains the fatality rate is closer to one in 100 — similar to when Covid first hit.
The UK cases all had the West African strain of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African strain.
It is thought that cases in Portugal and Spain also have the milder version, though tests are underway.
Is there a cure?
Because monkeypox is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, jabs for smallpox can also protect people from getting monkeypox.
One vaccine, Jynneos, also known as Imvamune or Imvanex, has been licensed in the US, but it’s not approved in the UK.
The vaccine was shown to be around 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox infection.
Antivirals and pooled blood from individuals vaccinated against smallpox can be used to treat severe cases.
What is the situation with the current UK outbreak?
Seven cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the UK between May 6 and 15.
Six of the infected Brits had not recently travelled abroad, suggesting there is transmission between people in the UK for the first time.
Some of the cases are believed to have caught the virus through sex — which health experts have described as ‘bizarre’.
Monkeypox was not thought to spread via sexual intercourse but through close contact with lesions or respiratory droplets. However, just because it can spread during sex does not mean it is the virus’ primary route of transmission, nor does it make it an STI.
The NHS is tracking down contacts of those infected to identify additional cases, as it is not clear how all of the infected people caught monkeypox.
Health leaders are also working with international agencies to determine if similar outbreaks are occurring elsewhere.
What do we know about the British cases so far?
Five are based in London, one in the South East, and one in the North East.
The first case was confirmed on May 7 in an individual who had recently travelled to Nigeria.
They received care at the expert infectious disease unit at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Two more cases in London were announced on May 14. The infected pair live together in the same household but had not been in contact with the case announced one week earlier.
One of these individuals is receiving care at the expert infectious disease unit at St Mary’s Hospital in London. The other is isolating at home and does not need hospital treatment.
Four more cases were announced on May 16, bringing the UK total to seven.
Two of the cases were in London, with the other two in the North East and South East of England.
The most recent four cases have no known connections with the earlier three cases, but two of them were known to each other.
The four new cases were in gay and bisexual men.
Mateo Prochazka, an STI expert and head of UKHSA team probing the outbreak, claimed the pattern of spread is ‘highly suggestive of spread in sexual networks’.
Are there any cases in the US?
There are no confirmed cases in the US, but officials are keeping tabs on six people who were in close contact with an infected person.
The Americans were on the same flight as a British patient who travelled from Nigeria to the UK on May 4, and became the first case of the virus there.
The potential US cases sat within a three-row radius of his seat, according to Jennifer McQuiston, a senior CDC official.
She told STAT news they will be monitored for 21 days.
McQuiston also warned that Britain’s current spate of cases could be the tip of the iceberg.
The lack of travel links and connections between the UK cases suggest there are ‘unknown chains of transmission happening’, she said.
‘You have two clusters that have no link to travel or to other people who are known to be associated with a recognized outbreak.
‘It suggests that there are unknown chains of transmission happening. If there appears to be unknown chains of transmission, it just puts on alert to be thinking: “Could this be spreading outside the UK?”‘
How worrying is it?
UK health chiefs say the risk of a major outbreak is low.
But they have urged gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to be extra vigilant because they appear to be at higher risk of catching it.
These groups have been urged to look out for any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service without delay if they have concerns.
Most scientists believe the outbreak will be small and transmission nothing like the levels seen with Covid.
This is because monkeypox is poor at spreading between humans and relies on very close and prolonged contact between people.
How does it spread?
Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection by nature, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex.
Contagious lesions, through which infections are most likely to be passed on, can appear on any part of the body.
The infection can also be passed on through contact with clothing or linens used by an infected person.
Until now, monkeypox had only ever been detected in four countries outside of Africa – the UK, US, Israel and Singapore.
And all of those cases had travel links to Nigeria and Ghana.
What are the symptoms?
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
But its most unusual feature is a rash that often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body, commonly the hands and feet.
The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
What do I do if I have symptoms?
Anyone worried that they could be infected with monkeypox is advised to make contact with clinics ahead of their visit.
Health chiefs say their call or discussion will be treated sensitively and confidentially.