The first possible monkeypox case in Washington, D.C. has been identified in a resident who recently travelled to Europe.
DC Health said the resident was confirmed to be positive for orthopox, the family of viruses that monkeypox falls within, on Saturday. Samples have been collected and sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for further testing and confirmation of monkeypox.
The infected resident is isolating and close contacts are being identified and monitored. According to DC Health, no other cases have been identified as of Sunday, and the risk to the public still remains low.
This follows the CDC’s stated plan of containment to limit the spread of monkeypox. The agency’s current approach involves isolating cases, identifying close contacts and ensuring that vaccines are available to them.
Around 25 monkeypox cases have been identified in at least 11 states so far, according to the CDC, with no deaths reported.
The majority of cases in the U.S. have been found in men who have sex with men, though one case has been confirmed in a woman with a heterosexual sex life. The gender and sexual orientation of the D.C. resident who tested positive were not shared.
Last week, the CDC said it had identified the strain of monkeypox infecting individuals in the U.S. as being a less severe West African variety. However, officials were quick to warn against minimizing the risk of monkeypox.
While the mortality rate for the pathogen is very low, symptoms such as the rash that forms can be very painful and the lesions can leave behind permanent scarring. Other symptoms of monkeypox are flu-like, including headaches, muscle aches and fever.
The lesions that form due to monkeypox are the primary way in which the virus spreads. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual, as well as contact with their clothing or bedsheets, can lead to transmission. Standard sanitary measures like hand washing and cleaning linens with normal laundry detergent can limit spread of the disease.
Monkeypox typically lasts for two to four weeks and an individual is no longer considered infectious once all their lesions have scabbed over and fully healed.