Massachusetts health officials announced Wednesday that they’ve confirmed a case of monkeypox, the first case of the rare virus identified in the United States in 2022,.
The Department of Public Health said the infection was found in an adult man who recently traveled to Canada, and health officials are looking into whether it’s linked to small recent outbreaks in Europe. Massachusetts General Hospital doctors said the patient didn’t have a travel history to areas with high levels of monkeypox.
Monkeypox is usually found in Africa, and rare cases in the U.S. and elsewhere are frequently linked to trips there.
The DPH is working to identify people who may have been in contact with the man while he was infectious.
The officials say this case poses no risk to the general public.
The man, a Massachusetts resident, has been hospitalized at Mass. General Hospital since May 12. He’s in isolation and in stable condition. The hospital said the disease is so rare it took six days to diagnose him, with the help of the CDC.
DPH said monkeypox can resemble early flu-like symptoms and turn into lesions that spread on the body. Most infections last between two and four weeks. However, health officials said monkeypox isn’t easily spread and the reason they’re giving so much attention to this case is because it wasn’t transmitted through contact with an animal or during travel, but apparently through human-to-human contact.
“Really right now, human-to-human transmission really has occurred through close contact, generally speaking. And that is close contact via respiratory droplets and prolonged face-to-face contact, as well as direct contact through lesions or in direct contact through contaminated bedding or, sort of, clothing contaminated with the lesions,” said Dr. Sarimer Sanchez, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau for the Boston Public Health Commission.
The CDC is tracking several clusters of monkeypox that have been reported within the past two weeks in Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Those countries don’t normally report monkeypox.
According to the CDC, “It’s not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkeypox but cases include individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men.”
The United States identified two cases of monkeypox in 2021, inand , from people who’d recently gone to Nigeria.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.