Nov. 23, 2021
Health authorities have confirmed that a Maryland resident who recently returned from Nigeria has monkeypox, making it the second case of the rare but potentially fatal viral illness found in the United States this year.
So far, the person has shown only mild symptoms, the Maryland Department of Health said in a news release issued last week. The person is isolating and has not been hospitalized.
“Public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual,” Jinlene Chan, MD, department deputy secretary for public health, said in the release. “Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure.”
People who came in contact with the infected person, including other airline passengers, are being contacted, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. Because the air travelers wore face masks, there’s a low possibility the virus spread through respiratory droplets, the CDC said.
In July, monkeypox was discovered in Texas in a traveler who’d come from Nigeria. That person was hospitalized, the CDC said in July. His current condition is not known. People who came in contact him were traced.
Monkeypox begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body, the CDC says. The disease is typically mild and causes less severe illness than smallpox but can be fatal in about 10% of cases.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys being held for research in Africa, according to the CDC. It re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017 after more than 40 years with no reported cases.
Since 2017, 218 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Nigeria, the CDC said. Eight cases have been detected in international travelers from Nigeria, including the Texas and Maryland cases, the CDC said.