Monkeypox case confirmed in US

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Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people (Alamy)
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people (Alamy)

A case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Maryland according to the state’s health department.

The case was confirmed in a Maryland resident who had recently returned from Nigeria. The Maryland Department of Health confirmed that the resident is recovering in isolation with mild symptoms and has not been hospitalised. The individuals identified as having been potentially exposed to this case will be monitored for symptoms of monkeypox for 21 days after exposure, the department added.

The state health department confirmed, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that special precautions are not yet recommended to the public.

Monkeypox is a virus in the same family as the more deadly smallpox, but generally causes a milder infection. It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin, body fluids or contaminated materials such as clothes. It can also be spread through large respiratory droplets which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, and prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

“Public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual,“ Maryland Department of Health deputy secretary for public Dr Jinlene Chan said. “Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure.”

Monkeypox typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes, progressing to a widespread rash on the face and body with most infections lasting two to four weeks.

In July earlier this year, 200 people in 27 US states were tracked by the CDC in connection to monkeypox infections after it feared people may have come in contact with a Texas man who brought the disease in from Nigeria earlier that month. The man was taken to hospital with mild conditions. It was the first case of the disease in the US since 2003.

Human monkeypox infections primarily occur in central and western Africa with only rare cases outside the contact. While all strains cause infection, those circulating in Africa generally cause less severe disease.

Travellers returning from central or western Africa are advised to notify their health provider if they develop symptoms of monkeypox.

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