An NYC patient has tested positive for the same genus virus as monkeypox sparking calls from the health department for residents to wear masks indoors – just as New Yorkers were finally returning to mask-free normalcy after COVID-19.
The CDC is still waiting for confirmation that it is monkeypox, after the patient tested positive for orthopoxvirus – the genus of viruses that includes smallpox, cowpox, horsepox, camelpox, and monkeypox.
City officials say a second possible monkeypox patient tested negative for the virus.
The health department is encouraging New Yorkers to wear face masks to protect against the new virus outbreak, as well as COVID-19 and the flu. Monkeypox primarily spreads through physical contact but can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air.
Meanwhile, the CDC issued an alert Friday urging doctors and health departments to be ‘vigilant’ for cases of monkeypox amid increased global spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent ‘unprecedented’ outbreak after over 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe.
In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe ever, cases have been reported in at least nine countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK – as well as the U.S., Canada and Australia.
A New York City patient tested positive for a virus related to monkeypox as officials worldwide warn against the spread of the rare disease
The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent outbreak after over 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe
The NYC health department is encouraging New Yorkers to wear face masks to protect against monkeypox, as well as other illnesses, such as COVID-19 and the flu
Monkeypox, which mostly occurs in west and central Africa, is a rare viral infection similar to smallpox, though milder.
The illness was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s, but the number of cases in West Africa has increased in the last decade.
It is an uncommon disease that usually causes symptoms of fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph-nodes, headaches and skin rashes starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.
The CDC’s alert to medical professionals comes just two days after the agency confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in a man in Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada.
The agency issued the alert to healthcare workers ‘so we are prepared to handle what may be coming.’
‘We are seeing the virus emerging in new ways we have not seen it emerge before,’ said Brett Petersen, deputy chief of the CDC’s pox virus and rabies branch told The Washington Post Friday. ‘That is where a lot of the concern comes from.’
The CDC issued an alert Friday urging doctors and health departments to be ‘vigilant’ for cases of monkeypox amid increased global spread
In addition to the two confirmed cases in the U.S., the CDC is monitoring six people in America for possible monkeypox infections.
The individuals were exposed after sitting near an infected traveler, who was exhibiting symptoms, on a flight from Nigeria to the UK earlier this month.
Federal officials expect to identify additional infections in U.S. in the upcoming days.
First identified in monkeys, the disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has triggered concern. However, scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, given the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-COV-2. PICTURED: Monkeypox virus
WHO held an emergency meeting Friday to investigate the spread of the virus. During the conference, a team of researchers who have been tracking cases revealed the majority of confirmed infections had been reported in Spain, followed by England and Portugal.
Spain reported 24 new cases on Friday, mainly in the Madrid region where the regional government closed a sauna linked to the majority of infections.
A hospital in Israel was treating a man in his 30s who is displaying symptoms consistent with the disease after recently arriving from Western Europe.
Belgium confirmed their first case of monkeypox in the province of Antwerp on Thursday. The person’s partner is being tested for the virus as they are showing symptoms.
Meanwhile, the first suspected case of the monkeypox virus on French territory has been detected in the Paris/Ile-de-France region, the French Health Ministry said on Thursday.
Canada has also confirmed two cases of monkeypox while at least 17 suspected cases are being investigated in Montreal, Quebec’s largest city.
Globally, there are more than 50 suspected cases that have not yet been confirmed. No deaths have been tied to the virus during this outbreak.
Monkeypox primarily spreads through physical contact but can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air. Health experts have suggested masks could help prevent spread. PICTURED: New Yorkers masked up in April 2021, amid the COVID pandemic
First identified in monkeys, the disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has triggered concern.
However, scientists do not expect the outbreak to evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19, given the virus does not spread as easily as SARS-COV-2.
‘There appears to be a low risk to the general public at this time,’ a senior U.S. administration official said.
Fabian Leendertz, from the Robert Koch Institute, described the outbreak as an epidemic.
‘However, it is very unlikely that this epidemic will last long. The cases can be well isolated via contact tracing and there are also drugs and effective vaccines that can be used if necessary,’ he said.
‘This is the largest and most widespread outbreak of monkeypox ever seen in Europe,’ Germany’s armed forces’ medical service, which detected its first case in the country on Friday, echoed.
People who are infected with monkeypox often suffer from severe rashes, skin lesions and flu like symptoms. The virus kills around one-in-ten people it infects, though there is belief that the current strain making its way around the world has a mortality rate of one percent
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, told DailyMail.com Thursday that the virus is spreading via physical touch – and that it only spreads through respiratory droplets in the air in people that are already exhibiting symptoms.
This changes the formula for how the virus spreads compared to what Americans are typically used to after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also gives an explanation as to why many of the cases detected in Europe are among gay and bisexual men.
‘It spreads through close bodily contact,’ Adalja explained. ‘It is just in the past it has been more of an animal to human thing… but with close contact it has always been known to spread.’
Dr Amesh Adalja (pictured), an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, warned that there will likely be more cases of the virus in the U.S., but it is too early to say if it will eclipse the record mark of 43 cases set in 2003
He also doubts that the six Americans believed to have been potentially exposed to the virus on the plane would have contracted it either, due to the small likelihood they had physical touch with others on the plane.
‘If they were just on the same plane, I don’t necessarily think you would see transmission,’ Adalja said.
‘If they were next to the patient though, then this is more likely.’
Ahead of the Massachusetts case, no monkeypox diagnosis had previously been identified in the U.S. this year. Texas and Maryland each reported a case in 2021 in people with recent travel to Nigeria.
The virus is mostly found in Nigeria, though there was a 40-year period without a single reported case before it re-emerged in the African nation in 2017.
In typical outbreaks, around one-in-ten cases are fatal, though some experts believe the mortality risk of the strain currently making its way across the world is as low as only one percent.
There was initial speculation that there could be a sexual transmission factor at play during this recent outbreak, as many people who initially tested positive for the rare virus were gay or bisexual men.
Health experts warn it is likely that more cases of the rare virus in the U.S., though it is unclear whether case figures will eclipse the record 43 cases that were detected in America during a 2003 outbreak. PICTURED: Manhattan healthcare workers in protective gear in Oct. 2014
What is monkeypox viral infection?
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which people usually pick up in the tropical areas of west and central Africa.
It is usually spread through direct contact with animals such as squirrels, which are known to harbour the virus.
However, it can also be transmitted through very close contact with contagious skin lesions on an infected person — such as during sex.
What are the symptoms?
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
But its most unusual feature is a rash that often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body, commonly the hands and feet.
The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
How deadly is it?
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. Yet, the disease can prove fatal.
Monkeypox kills up to 10 per cent of people it infects.
However, with milder strains the fatality rate is closer to one in 100 — similar to when Covid first hit.
What are the treatment options?
There are no specific treatments available for monkeypox infection.
However, because monkeypox virus is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, jabs for smallpox can also protect people from getting monkeypox.
One vaccine, Jynneos, also known as Imvamune or Imvanex, has been licensed in the U.S. to prevent monkeypox.
The jab is about 85 percent effective.
Adalja says that it is too early to determine why, but there are a few reasonable explanations.
‘It may have just been they were all at a party together and a party where all friends happened to be of a certain sexual orientation,’ he explained. ‘We don’t know whether it was sexual contact, it just needs a touch of the skin of someone.’
He warns it is likely that more cases of the rare virus in the U.S., though it is unclear whether case figures will eclipse the record 43 cases that were detected in America during a 2003 outbreak.
The CDC is warning that men who have sex with other men seem to be most at risk at the moment, as it is traveling through their sexual network, all healthcare providers should be on alert.
‘Many of these global reports of monkeypox cases are occurring within sexual networks. However, healthcare providers should be alert to any rash that has features typical of monkeypox,’ Dr. Inger Damon, director of CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in a statement released Wednesday night.
‘We’re asking the public to contact their healthcare provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox.’
The CDC also notes that many of the lesions that appear as a result of monkeypox infection may have similarities to symptoms of STIs like syphilis, herpes, HSV, and others. The agency also warns says that even people who are not gay or bisexual men should be on the look out.
The prevalence of cases in the UK, also puts America in particular at an increased risk of of outbreak.
Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a senior official at the CDC, told Stat News: ‘There’s a lot of travel between the U.K. and the United States and other global area.
‘So I think our concern is that given that you do have four cases among men who have sex with men, that we probably need to be thinking about messaging to our STI clinics … about what to be on the lookout for, what to be alert for.’
There are no therapeutics available that are specifically targeted at the condition – because of how low its prevalence is – though many drugs that are effective against smallpox can also treat the monkeypox.
There is a vaccine available to prevent infection from the virus.