Just when it seems like the world was opening back up and returning to normal, another health scare has people shook! Monkeypox is trending on Twitter after reports of a rare outbreak in England, Portugal and Spain surfaced. According to NPR, the outbreak is relatively small as only 36 suspected cases spread across the three countries. So far, reports show 8 cases in England and 20 in Portugal. However, there is one active case in the United States.
The case discovered in Massachusetts shows the infected individual had not recently traveled to countries where the disease occurs but did visit Canada. According to NPR, Monkeypox is an illness with symptoms including fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes, and eventually “pox” or painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands, and feet. One version of Monkeypox is deadly and kills up to 10% of people infected. While the outbreak can be frightening, the version in England is mild, and the fatality rate is less than 1%. Cases generally resolve in 2 to 4 weeks.
Individuals are most likely to catch Monkeypox from animals in West or Central Africa and import the virus to other countries. Person-to-person transmission isn’t standard because it requires close contact with bodily fluids. This includes saliva or pus from the lesions. Overall the risk to the general population is low, says the U.K. Health Security Agency.
Although health officials have little knowledge of where people caught the virus, they do have concerns that it may be spreading through the community, undetected, and possibly through a new route of transmission. Epidemiologist and Chief Medical Adviser of the U.K. Health Security Agency Susan Hopkins said in a statement Monday, “This [outbreak] is rare and unusual. Exactly where and how they [people] acquired their infections remains under urgent investigation.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the U.S. has been exposed to Monkeypox. In 2003 a shipment of animals from Ghana to Illinois tested positive for the virus. It eventually spread to prairie dogs being sold as pets in multiple states in the Midwest, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Roommates, we’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.
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