Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are tracking multiple cases of monkeypox that have been reported in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including the United States.
The multi-country outbreak of monkeypox is ongoing since early May. As of 26 May 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports a cumulative total of 257 laboratory confirmed cases and around 120 suspected cases worldwide from countries where the disease is not considered to be endemic. No deaths have been reported.
Through May 29, the CDC has reported a total of 14 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases from eight states- California (3), Colorado (2), Florida (2), Massachusetts (1), New York (2), Utah (2), Virginia (1) and Washington (1).
It’s not clear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but cases include people who self-identify as men who have sex with men. In Europe, officials say most of cases have been detected in young men, self-identifying as men who have sex with men (MSM).
Monkeypox virus can spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected animal, infected person, or materials contaminated with the virus.
Monkeypox spreads between people primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
In humans, the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The main difference between symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) while smallpox does not. The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.
The illness begins with: fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
Lesions progress through the following stages before falling off: macules, papules, vesicles, pustules and scabs.
The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.
CDC officials say people who may have symptoms of monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider. This includes anyone who:
- traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases have been reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox during the month before their symptoms began,
- reports contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or
- is a man who regularly has close or intimate contact with other men, including men who meet partners through an online website, digital application (“app”), or at a bar or party.