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Massachusetts man diagnosed with 1st U.S. case of monkeypox in 2022

May 18 (UPI) -- Officials in Massachusetts on Tuesday confirmed a U.S. case of the monkeypox virus as concerns over the rare disease grow with multiple countries announcing infections.

The infection was diagnosed in a man who had recently traveled to Canada, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in a statement.

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Initial testing was completed late Tuesday at the State Public Health Laboratory in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirming the result on Wednesday.

"DPH is working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health and the patient's healthcare providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious," it said.

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No additional identifying information was made available to the public, but the 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 a rare disease that produces symptoms similar to that of the eradicated smallpox virus though they are milder, according to the CDC. The incubation period for monkeypox is generally seven to 14 days, after which fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, among other symptoms, arise.

Between one and three days after the patient experiences a fever, they develop a rash often on the face that spreads to other parts of the body and lesions form, it said, adding that the illness typically lasts from two to four weeks.

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The DPH said the virus does not readily spread to humans but transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores and items that have been in contact with body fluids or monkeypox sores. Prolonged "face-to-face contact" could also result in infection through respiratory droplets, it said.

The diagnosis was announced the same day as health officials in Spain issued a nationwide alert concerning a possible outbreak of the virus with 23 people in Britain and Portugal displaying symptoms.

British health officials said Wednesday there have been nine confirmed cases since May 6 with recent cases predominately diagnosed in men who have sex with other men.

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On May 7, Britain confirmed a case of monkeypox in a patient with recent travel history to Nigeria. Two additional cases were identified a week later among the same household with no link to the first case.

Then on Monday, four new cases with no connection to the previous cases were diagnosed. All four of the patients identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with other men, the health officials said, stating two of the four cases had common contacts.

On Wednesday, two additional cases were announced, one in London and the other from southeast Britain.

"The two latest cases have no travel links to a country where monkeypox is endemic, so it is possible they acquired the infection through community transmission," British health authorities said.

The World Health Organization said it has been notified of the cases.

In Portugal, health officials said in a statement it has detected more than 20 suspected cases, five of which have been confirmed as of Tuesday.

This is not the first time the United States has confirmed cases of monkeypox.

According to the CDC's website, two cases were diagnosed last year, one in July and November, among patients who had traveled to Nigeria.

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In 2003, the health officials battled an outbreak of the virus that produced 47 confirmed and probable cases in six states.

Prior to the recent outbreak in Britain, it had eight previous cases, with the first-ever diagnosis occurring in 2018.

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