Monkeypox: CDC investigating first U.S. case of the year as globally growing clusters emerge outside of Africa
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While the UK has confirmed clusters of monkeypox infections and Spain and Portugal are both investigating suspected cases, the US has confirmed their first monkeypox infection of the year.
A Massachusetts man was diagnosed with the viral disease and is hospitalized at Massachusetts General Hospital in stable condition, according to a recent news conference.
It is unclear whether the US case is linked to any of the overseas cases, but the patient recently drove to Canada. Health officials in Quebec are investigating more than a dozen suspected cases of monkeypoxaccording to a recent report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Since we have now seen confirmed cases outside Portugal, suspected cases outside Spain, we are seeing this expansion of confirmed and suspected cases globally. We feel that no one has their arms around this to know how big and expansive it is. it could be, “said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) division of pathogens and high-risk conditions.
“And given the amount of travel there is between the United States and Europe, I am very confident that we will see cases in the United States.”
Portugal reported more than 20 suspected cases of the infection this month, including five cases confirmed by the National Institutes of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge on Tuesday, via a press release. The cases were all mostly young males who developed ulcerative lesions.
Since early May 2022, the UK has identified nine cases of monkeypox. Only his first case involved a recent trip to Nigeria. The other recent cases are mainly “in men who have sex with men,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health press release.
The UK is reportedly offering smallpox vaccinations to healthcare workers as there is no specific vaccination for monkeypox. But the smallpox vaccine offers some protection.
McQuiston confirmed the The CDC is monitoring six Americans for monkeypox symptoms for 21 days, the general incubation period of the virus. They were traveling on the same flight as a British man who recently tested positive for monkeypox.
Monkeypox is a virus first discovered in 1958 after two outbreaks in colonies of research monkeys with a smallpox-like disease. This is why it is called “monkeypox,” but the true reservoir of the disease is actually unknown, according to the CDC.
The first known human case was confirmed in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as efforts were undertaken to eradicate smallpox, according to the CDC.
First time monkeypox has been reported outside of Africa was in an outbreak in the United States in 2003 linked to infected exotic animals from Ghana that infected prairie dogs, which were later sold as pets. This outbreak resulted in 47 confirmed and suspected cases from six different states, according to STAT.
Monkeypox returned to Nigeria in 2017 after 40 years of no reported infections, with the CDC reporting two cases in 2021, one from Maryland and one from Texas. Both patients traveled to Nigeria.
The virus belongs to the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, so they both look similar. But monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell while smallpox generally does not.
The infection has two stages. An invasion phase begins with flu-like symptoms and can last up to five days, followed by a rash phase when a characteristic rash appears, usually initially on the face. It then spreads to the rest of the body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, which is often a diagnostic clue, according to STAT, a health news website.
In endemic countries, the the virus mainly spreads from infected animals to people when shrub meat is prepared, but once the virus infects people, human-to-human transmission can occur through respiratory droplets or by direct contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or contaminated clothing , according to STAT.
“I think we’re concerned about the number of exported traveler cases we’ve seen,” McQuiston said. “And having so many of them in recent years is simply a flag for us that there is much more monkeypox transmission in Nigeria than perhaps the [official] the numbers would suggest “.
Monkeypox has no specific treatment other than symptomatic treatment.
There is a licensed vaccine approved by the Federal Drug and Administration (FDA) known as Jynneos which protects against smallpox and monkeypox for people aged 18 and over for people in the United States, for the FDA website.
Bavarian Nordic, the company that makes it, recently signed a contract with an unknown European country to supply its vaccine in response to new cases of monkeypox, according to a press release.
“Bavarian Nordic’s smallpox vaccine is approved in the United States as Jynneos and in Canada as Imvamune, both places with extended approval to cover the monkeypox indication. The vaccine is approved in Europe as Imvanex only for the ‘indication of smallpox, but was previously provided for off-label use in response to cases of monkeypox, ”the statement said.
US company Emergent Product Development produces a second Vaccine approved by the FDA known as ACAM2000, which offers protection against smallpox for people at high risk of infection, according to the FDA.
STAT noted that it also offers “protection” against monkeypox.
Vaccine supplies are on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to protect against public health emergencies, such as the use of smallpox as a bioweapon, according to the FDA.
“To combat a smallpox emergency, the SNS holds enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate the entire US population. In addition, the SNS has antiviral drugs that can be used to treat smallpox infections. if necessary, “a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said.