BOSTON, Mass (WPRI/AP) — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reported a rare case of monkeypox Wednesday.
The DPH said a Massachusetts man who recently returned from a trip to Canada tested positive for the virus. He is currently hospitalized but in good condition.
Monkeypox is typically limited to Africa, and rare cases in the U.S. and elsewhere are usually linked to travel there. A small number of confirmed or suspected cases have been reported this month in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.
This is the first case of monkeypox in the United States so far this year. Last year, Texas and Maryland each reported a case in people who traveled to Nigeria.
Jennifer McQuiston of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they’re in contact with health officials in the U.K. and Canada as part of the investigation.
But “at this point in time, we don’t have any information that links the Massachusetts case to cases in the U.K.,” she said.
Though it’s the only U.S. case the CDC is aware of, “I do think we are preparing for the possibility of more cases,” she said.
The DPH said it’s working with the CDC and the infected man’s health care provider to identify close contacts.
Monkeypox typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body. In Africa, people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, and it does not usually spread easily among people.
However, investigators in Europe said most of the cases have been in gay or bisexual men, and officials are looking into the possibility that some infections were spread through close contact during sex.
Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization.