The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in the United States. On May 17, 2022, skin lesions that had several features suspicious for monkeypox—firm, well circumscribed, deep-seated, and umbilicated lesions—on a Massachusetts resident prompted specialized Laboratory Response Network (LRN) testing of swab specimens collected from the resident; preliminary testing confirmed the presence of DNA consistent with an orthopoxvirus using Orthopoxvirus generic and non-variola Orthopoxvirus real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. This group of viruses includes monkeypox virus(the causative agent of monkeypox). Testing at CDC on May 18 confirmed the patient was infected with a West African strain of monkeypox virus. The patient is currently isolated and does not pose a risk to the public.
Cases of monkeypox have previously been identified in travelers from, or residents of, West African or Central African countries where monkeypox is considered to be endemic. CDC is issuing this Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory to ask clinicians in the United States to be vigilant to the characteristic rash associated with monkeypox.
Suspicion for monkeypox should be heightened if the rash occurs in people who:
- traveled to countries with recently confirmed cases of monkeypox,
- report having had contact with a person or people who have a similar appearing rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or
- is a man who regularly has close or intimate in-person contact with other men, including those met through an online website, digital application (“app”), or at a bar or party.
Lesions may be disseminated or located on the genital or perianal area alone. Some patients may present with proctitis, and their illness could be clinically confused with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like syphilis or herpes, or with varicella zoster virus infection.
Since May 14, 2022, clusters of monkeypox cases, have been reported in several countries that don’t normally have monkeypox. Although previous cases outside of Africa have been associated with travel from Nigeria, most of the recent cases do not have direct travel-associated exposure risks. The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) was the first to announce on May 7, 2022, identification of a recent U.K. case that occurred in a traveler returning from Nigeria. On May 14, 2022, UKHSA announced an unrelated cluster of monkeypox cases in two people living in the same household who have no history of recent travel. On May 16, 2022, UKHSA announced a third temporally clustered group of cases involving four people who self-identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM), none of whom have links to the three previously diagnosed patients. Some evidence suggests that cases among MSM may be epidemiologically linked; the patients in this cluster were identified at sexual health clinics. This is an evolving investigation and public health authorities hope to learn more about routes of exposure in the coming days.
CDC has a new webpage for the 2022 Monkeypox situation: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/outbreak/current.html