A Massachusetts resident tested positive for monkeypox on Tuesday after traveling to Canada, health officials said Wednesday, becoming the first case in the U.S. this year as European countries investigate over 30 potential cases.

Key Facts

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Wednesday confirmed a single case of monkeypox in a man who recently traveled to Canada.

It’s the first and only case reported in the United States this year.

The United Kingdom reported its first 2022 case in early May, and nine cases of monkeypox have been identified in the U.K. so far.

Spain is also investigating eight suspected monkeypox cases and Portugal is investigating roughly 20 cases, five of which are confirmed, according to Stat.

The outbreak has been labeled “rare and unusual”, by UK Health Security Agency chief medical adviser Susan Hopkins.

What To Watch For

A Spanish health official told the Guardian that while the virus spreading on a large scale isn’t likely it also “can’t be ruled out.”

Key Background

Monkeypox has circulated in Nigeria for years, with hundreds of cases reported since 2017, but it rarely reaches the United States or Europe. Only two cases were reported in the United States last year, both of which were tied to travel to Nigeria, but most of this year’s nine U.K. cases were in patients who didn’t report any recent travel history—raising concerns the virus may have spread via community transmission in the United Kingdom. The virus doesn’t spread easily between people. UK Health Security Agency reports the recent U.K. cases are predominately in gay or bisexual men, but it is not a sexually transmitted disease and typically spreads through body fluids like mucus and respiratory droplets from face-to-face contact. The U.K. strain’s fatality rate is estimated at less than 1%, and most patients recover within a few weeks after suffering early symptoms like fever and headache. The disease can also cause a rash similar to chickenpox or syphilis that spreads to parts of the body.

Further Reading

1st monkeypox case in US this year reported in Massachusetts (ABC News)

Monkeypox – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (World Health Organization)

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