The virus is related to smallpox but typically requires prolonged close contact to transmit. There have been 84 cases and no deaths in the U.S. so far.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has detected its first probable case of infection by hMPXV, the human version of the monkeypox virus, health officials announced Thursday.
The patient in question is an adult male who recently traveled to a community with confirmed cases, according to a news release from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). He is being isolated and confirmation testing is being done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The monkeypox virus is from the same group as smallpox, but it is a separate virus that is both harder to catch and causes milder disease, according to health officials. There are two strains of monkeypox, and the one that’s been circulating in recent weeks is the less severe of the two.
Initial symptoms can include a fever, headache and muscle aches, followed after a couple days by a rash, often on the face and spreading to the limbs, according to the press release. The rash can form into large bumps filled with fluid or pus that will scab and fall off over the next few weeks.
Symptoms usually start about one or two weeks after exposure, and an infected person can potentially transmit the infection until the rash resolves.
Monkeypox has historically been transmitted to people from wild animals, but hMPXV can also spread person-to-person, although it requires prolonged close contact.
Transmission via respiratory droplets is possible, but it’s more common for cases to spread through skin-to-skin contact or contact with fluid from lesions caused by the disease.
The people at highest risk of infection are sexual partners of infected patients, family members of infected patients and healthcare workers caring for infected patients.
Some of the cases were identified at clinics in communities of gay and bisexual men, according to the World Health Organization, but contrary to some false information that has been posted to social media, the disease is not exclusive to LGBTQ people and can be spread to anyone who has close contact with an infected patient.
Monkeypox is most often found in Africa, but several European countries have experienced small outbreaks in the past month, including some in patients who did not travel to Africa, catching the attention of global health officials. The first U.S. case was reported May 18 in Massachusetts.
To date, there have been 84 reported cases across 18 states, according to OHA. Washington State reported its first confirmed case May 27, and state health officials reported a second probable case on Thursday.
Most people who have been infected are recovering at home without special treatment, according to Oregon health officials, and there have been no deaths reported in the United States.
There are two vaccines that can be used to treat monkeypox, according to Oregon health officials, one of which is approved to treat smallpox while the other is designed for both smallpox and hMPXV.
The vaccines can be used on people with known exposure to hMPXV and can prevent or decrease disease even if administered after the exposure. Members of the public don’t need the vaccine if they haven’t been exposed.