Massachusetts confirms first case of monkeypox in the United States this year

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Massachusetts health officials confirmed on Wednesday the first case of monkeypox, a rare but potentially serious virus, in the United States so far this year. 

Monkeypox causes similar symptoms to smallpox, including fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, chills, and skins lesions. 

At least seven cases of the virus have been reported this month in the United Kingdom, health authorities there said. 

An electron microscopic image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022.  

An electron microscopic image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022.  
(Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/CDC/Handout via REUTERS)

The individual who contracted monkeypox in Massachusetts had recently traveled to Canada and officials said they are conducting contact tracing. 

“This contact tracing approach is the most appropriate given the nature and transmission of the virus,” Massachusetts health officials said. “The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.” 

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Monkeypox is most common in central and western African countries, but cases have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel. 

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW

    Monkeypox virus lesions on a patient's hands
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    In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand June 5, 2003.  (CDC/Getty Images)

    Monkeypox frequently causes lesions that can spread the virus
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    Image 2 of 2

    Monkeypox is considered mild and typically occurs in remote parts of central and west Africa. (CDC)

The last American to have monkeypox was a Maryland resident who contracted the virus shortly after returning from Nigeria last November. 

Health officials in Texas also confirmed a case last July in a man who had recently traveled from Nigeria. 

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Monkeypox is most easily spread through bites and scratches by African rodents and monkeys that harbor the virus, but it can also spread between people through contact with contaminated sores and other bodily fluids. 

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