The US has confirmed the first case of Monkeypox in a Massachusetts man, while the infection spreads to Europe with 14 cases of the virus confirmed across the UK, Portugal and Spain.
According to a statement from the US’ Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) the patient in Massachusetts had not recently travelled to countries where the disease occurs but had visited Canada. “The individual is hospitalised and is in a good condition,” the statement added.
It has, however, not yet been determined if the Massachusetts case was part of the growing European outbreak, Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology, told STAT news.
On Wednesday, Spain announced that it was investigating eight suspected cases — all in gay and bisexual men. Portugal said it was investigating more than 20 suspected cases, five of which have already been confirmed.
It is not currently clear if the outbreaks are linked to each other or to the one in the UK, where the infection has been confirmed in nine and one probable case has been reported. The cases in the UK also appear to be linked to sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men, likely due to contact with infectious lesions in the skin.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an warning that more cases of the monkeypox virus could be reported in Britain. An investigation is underway by British health officials to detect the cause of the outbreak which has hit mainly London, now affecting nine people.
“Based on currently available information, infection seems to have been locally acquired in the United Kingdom. The extent of local transmission is unclear at this stage and there is the possibility of identification of further cases,” the WHO added. Three cases from the same household were initially confirmed on May 6, followed by four more cases a few days later. Two additional cases, one in London and one in the South East of England, were also detected.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO), which previously designated monkeypox as a priority pathogen, has organised a meeting of experts on monkeypox and orthopoxviruses — the wider family of pox viruses — for early next week.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2-to-4 weeks.