An announcement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Wednesday confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection in an adult male with recent travel to Canada.

Monkeypox is a viral illness that typically starts with flu-like symptoms and progresses to include a rash. The agency is urging medical professionals to watch out for rash illnesses that have features similar to monkeypox.

The initial testing was completed on late Tuesday at the State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain while the confirmatory testing was completed at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently, the Department of Public Health is closely working with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient’s health care providers in order to identify the individuals who may have contacted the patient while he was infectious.

On other hand, there have been reports of monkeypox outbreaks in multiple European countries in which the CDC warned it could potentially spread beyond U.K. borders.

On Wednesday, Portuguese health authorities confirmed five cases of monkeypox, and Spanish health authorities issued an alert over a possible outbreak of monkeypox after 23 people showed symptoms compatible with the viral infection. 

Here’s what the senior CDC official told STAT NEWS in an interview:

“We do have a level of concern that this is very different than what we typically think of from monkeypox. And I think we have some concern that there could be spread outside the U.K associated with this.” 

More details from STAT NEWS report:

Seven confirmed and one probable case of monkeypox have been discovered in the U.K. since early May — an unusually large number given that human monkeypox cases are uncommon, and are especially rare outside West and Central Africa. While one of the cases had recently traveled to Nigeria, where monkeypox is endemic, the others appear to have contracted the virus in the U.K. None of the people infected domestically has any known connections with the traveler and the timing of the onset of the cases suggest he was not the source of those infections.

Complicating the situation — and amplifying the concern — is the fact that the other cases comprise two distinct groups that have no discernible links to one other. Two of the confirmed cases and the single probable case are a family unit, Maria Van Kerkhove, a World Health Organization expert, said at a press conference on Tuesday. The other four confirmed cases, disclosed most recently, were identified by the U.K. Health Security Agency as gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men — three from London and a fourth from Newcastle, nearly 300 miles to the north. All four were likely infected in London, the agency said.

It is not known how any of these people contracted the virus. Transmission is thought to occur mainly through virus-laced droplets, but direct contact with lesions or bodily fluids from an infected person, or indirect contact via contaminated clothing or linens, can also result in transmission.

ABC News had some scoop:

A Massachusetts resident has tested positive for monkeypox, health officials confirmed Wednesday, making it the first case of the rare virus detected in the United States this year.

According to a release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the patient is an adult male who recently traveled to Canada. The department completed initial testing Tuesday and was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition,” MDPH stated in a press release. “DPH is working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient’s health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious.”

It comes after four more cases of monkeypox were identified in the U.K recently, bringing the nationwide total to nine since the beginning of May.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The first case among humans was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970, and the illness has since spread to several other nations, mostly in central and western Africa.

The virus reemerged in Nigeria in 2017 after four decades without a single confirmed case. Since then, 450 reported cases of monkeypox have been reported in Nigeria. The infection eventually progresses to include a rash on the body and face and typically lasts two to four weeks.

Cases include individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men. The CDC urges clinicians to look out for patients with rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox. People suspected of having the virus should be isolated in a negative pressure room, the agency says. People should wear appropriate personal protective equipment around them, it says.

Sources: WLT, ABC News, STAT

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