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How many cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the United States?

After reports of suspected and confirmed monkeypox infections in Europe, concerns have been raised in the US of the potential spread across the Atlantic.

Update:
Qué se sabe sobre Monkeypox, la viruela del mono: ¿cómo se contagia y qué síntomas tiene?

In other times, reports of a few cases of a ‘new’ disease would not have picked up too much attention, and even less concern. But these are not normal times. These are the days being lived following a pandemic that touched almost everyone on the globe in some way. And with that in mind, it makes sense that a sprinkling of cases of monkeypox being confirmed or suspected in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain has everyone on alert. And given the early rate of spread, there could be very good reason for this.

An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1996 to 1997, shows the arms and torso of a patient with skin lesions due to monkeypox.
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An image created during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1996 to 1997, shows the arms and torso of a patient with skin lesions due to monkeypox.CDC/BRIAN W.J. MAHYvia REUTERS

Monkeypox: are there any cases in the US?

On Wednesday morning, after Britain had put Europe on alert for the virus, reporting its first case on 7 May and finding a further six since, Portuguese authorities said they had identified five cases of the monkeypox infection. Across the border in Spain, its health services stated that they were testing 23 potential cases. The continent’s health authorities continue to monitor the situation.

Later that day, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it had now confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in a man who had recently traveled to Canada. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that its labs confirmed the infection to be monkeypox, making it the first in the United States.

The state agency said it was working with CDC and relevant local boards of health to carry out contact tracing, adding that “the case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.” The Public Health Agency of Canada late on Wednesday issued a statement saying it is aware of the monkeypox cases in Europe and is closely monitoring the current situation, adding no cases have been reported at this time.

What is monkeypox, what are the symptoms and how is it transmitted?

Monkeypox, which mostly occurs in west and central Africa, is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, though milder. It was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s. The number of cases in West Africa has increased in the last decade.

Symptoms include fever, headaches and skin rashes starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

The Massachusetts agency said the virus does not spread easily between people, but transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items such as bedding or clothing that have been contaminated with fluids or sores, or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

It said no monkeypox cases had previously been identified in the United States this year. Texas and Maryland each reported a case in 2021 in people with recent travel to Nigeria. The CDC said it is tracking the multiple clusters of monkeypox reported in other countries over recent weeks.