PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health reported its first probable case of monkeypox Thursday, but says the risk to residents remains low.
The Health Department said a man in his 30s tested positive for an orthopox virus, and confirmation of monkeypox is pending a test at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
He is currently hospitalized and in good condition, the Health Department added.
The man lives in Providence County, according to health officials, and the case is believed to be related to travel to Massachusetts.
“While monkeypox is certainly a concern, the risk to Rhode Islanders remains low – even with this finding. Monkeypox is a known – and remains an exceedingly uncommon – disease in the United States. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for monkeypox that can be given before or after exposure to help prevent infection,” Interim Health Director James McDonald said.
The Health Department is now conducting contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the man while he was infected. Contacts will be monitored for three weeks after their last day of exposure.
No additional positive cases have been detected, the Health Department added.
The United States reported its first monkeypox case in a Massachusetts man on May 18. Since then, several other states have also reported cases.
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.