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First D.C. monkeypox case confirmed; hundreds of cases counted worldwide

The World Health Organization has tallied 780 cases of monkeypox since May 13. Photo courtesy of UK Health Security Agency/<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukhsa-latest-findings-into-monkeypox-outbreak">Website</a>
The World Health Organization has tallied 780 cases of monkeypox since May 13. Photo courtesy of UK Health Security Agency/Website

June 6 (UPI) -- Health officials in Washington, D.C., have confirmed the district's first monkeypox infection as hundreds of cases have been counted worldwide.

The district said in a statement Sunday that the DC Public Health Lab confirmed its first monkeypox case in a resident with recent travel to Europe. The samples have been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further confirmation, it said.

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"The patient is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public," it said. "DC Health is identifying and monitoring close contacts, however, at this time no additional cases have been identified in the district."

Massachusetts on May 18 confirmed the nation's first monkeypox case of the year in a man with recent travel to Canada.

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Between then and Friday, the CDC has tallied 25 monkeypox cases with five cases each in California and New York and three in Florida. Colorado, Illinois and Utah have each counted two cases and Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state each have one.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that produces symptoms similar to that of the eradicated smallpox virus though they are milder, according the CDC. Fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion are among the list of symptoms someone infected with the virus could experience, it said.

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Between one and three days after the patient experiences a fever, a rash develops on the face that spreads to other parts of the body. Legions then form, and the illness last between two to four weeks.

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Though the virus does not spread easily between humans, transmission is possible through the contact of body fluids and monkeypox sores as well as clothing that has come into contact with either.

The U.S. outbreak comes as several other countries deal with their own.

Canada, Britain, Spain, Portugal and several other countries have announced cases of the rare disease.

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On Saturday, the World Health Organization said it has counted 780 infections in 27 countries, representing a more than 200% increase since May 29.

Most of the cases became known via sexual health or other health service centers and involve mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with other men, the United Nations' health body said.

"The sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there might have been undetected transmission for some unknown duration of time followed by recent amplifier events," it said.

Britain is the country that has the highest number of confirmed cases at 190, of which 86% were London residents with only two women infected.

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"We are working to break chains of transmission, including by contact tracing and vaccination," Dr. Meera Chand, director of clinical and emerging infections at Britain's health security agency, said in a statement. "We are grateful to everyone who has come forward for testing and it is extremely important that everyone continues to be aware of the symptoms and to seek advice if they have concerns."

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