BOSTON (WHDH) - While a man recovers from a rare case of monkeypox as Mass. General Hospital, Gov. Charlie Baker said people vaccinated against smallpox are also protected from the disease.
“It is not transmissible the way COVID is,” Baker said. “(But) we view it as an important issue and we’re going to continue to discuss it with our colleagues.”
While rare, he said, public health officials are still watching this case closely as they try to figure out how a Massachusetts man wound up contracting this rare disease endemic to Africa, having only recently traveled to Canada.
The man has been hospitalized at Massachusetts General Hospital for six days and is said to be doing well after initial testing was completed at a state laboratory in Jamaica Plain on Tuesday, according to a release issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
“It was really an astute clinical team who thought of this diagnosis,” the hospital’s chief preparedness and continuity officer said.
“We transferred the patient throughout the course of the day to our special pathogens unit where they’ve remained,” the hospital’s associate chief of Infection Control added.
The Center for Disease Control confirmed the findings of the state-run test the next day. The DPH says they are working with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the man’s health care providers to find people he may have come into contact with while infectious.
Officials said it does not spread easily between people but can be passed through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.
Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body,” health officials said. Most infections last from two to four weeks.
They say it is typically transmitted to people who have been bitten or scratched by small rodents or small mammals, have prepared wild game or had contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.
Doctors at Mass. General said it is harder to pinpoint the cause of this particular case because the patient said he did not come into contact with an infected animal, nor did he travel to the United Kingdom or west Africa.
“It’s really about close sustained contact,” the city’s Infectious Diseases Bureau medical director said. “Thinking about travel to a country where cases have been identified thinking about close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox or suspected to have it and then also men who have reported sexual contact with other men.”
This is the first case detected in the United States this year.
“People should just be aware of symptoms, but not be afraid in any way,” the chief preparedness and continuity officer said.
For more information about this virus, click here.
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