A case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Maryland, and health officials say no special precautions are recommended at this time for the public.
Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but generally causes a milder infection, a news release from the state department of health said.
It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions or body fluids, or contaminated materials, such as clothing or linens. Another way it can be spread is through large, respiratory droplets, which health officials say cannot travel more than a few feet and prolonged face-to-face contact would be required.
The person with the confirmed case is a Maryland resident who recently returned from Nigeria. The person has mild symptoms, is in isolation and not hospitalized. Public health officials are following up with people who may have been exposed. They will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after their exposures.
“Our response in close coordination with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure,” Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan said.
Illness typically starts with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes. Then, it might progress to a widespread rash on the face and body. Infections last between two to four weeks.
Human monkeypox infections have been documented rarely outside of Africa. They primarily occur in central and western African countries. The Maryland health department said that although all strains of the monkeypox virus can cause infections, those in western Africa, where Nigeria is located, generally cause less severe disease.
If you have recently returned from the parts of Africa mentioned above and develop symptoms, you should call your doctor.