A US resident who recently returned from Nigeria is confirmed as the first case of human monkeypox in the US in decades.
In early July, a Texas resident took a flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Dallas. Soon after, the patient developed a flu-like illness. The patient was later hospitalized and on July 15th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed it to be a case of monkeypox. Thus, making this the first human monkeypox case in the US in over 18 years.
The patient, who remains anonymous, is currently hospitalized and in isolation at a hospital in Dallas. Moreover, the patient remains in a stable condition.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus belonging to the same family as smallpox. Similar to smallpox, it also presents with a rash; however, the infection is milder. Generally, it begins with a flu-like illness and swollen lymph nodes that progresses to a bumpy, raised rash spread all over the body. Human-to-human transmission mostly occurs from contact with infected respiratory droplets. Although most people recover within a month, some can go on to develop a severe infection resulting in death.
However, Dallas County Judge, Clay Jenkins believes the case is ‘not a reason for alarm.’ According to CDC’s statement, the risk of spread is low as everyone on the flight wore a mask due to current COVID-19 protocols. The CDC is working on contacting the airline passengers and all those who may have come in contact with the patient during the two flights.
Most Outbreaks in Africa
Outside of Africa, three other countries have reported cases of human monkeypox. This includes the US, UK, and Singapore. Most of these cases have occurred among travellers returning from Nigeria.
In 1970, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported the first case of human monkeypox. Since then, the country has reported over a thousand cases of the diseases. Moreover, multiple smaller outbreaks have also occurred across Africa. Experts believe that African rodents might be responsible for spreading the virus to people and other animals.
In 2003, the US experienced its largest monkeypox outbreak with over 30 confirmed cases. Researchers later traced the virus to a shipment of infected animals from Ghana. Health officials administered smallpox vaccines to help contain the outbreak. The CDC is currently conducting trials for the smallpox vaccine Jynneos in DRC. They aim to investigate whether it can prevent frontline workers from contracting undiagnosed monkeypox infections from infected patients.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)