DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The CDC and Massachusetts Health Department are investigating a single case of monkeypox in a man who recently traveled to Canada.
But how the patient was infected with this rare illness remains unknown.
“We don’t typically see monkeypox, this is an unusual infection for the United States,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke Health. “This is a much more common illness typically associated with return travel from folks who may have visited Africa.”
Health officials are currently watching growing clusters of monkeypox in Europe, particularly in the UK, Spain, and Portugal.
“What’s different here is that we’re getting person-to-person transmission. That doesn’t typically occur,” Wolfe said.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.
“It’s not typically at all associated with monkeys. It’s an animal virus that’s commonly seen in a whole variety of wild animals,” Wolfe said.
In humans, it typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes. Then, progresses to a rash on the face and body. Monkeypox infections can last 2- 4 weeks.
Dr. Wolfe says the vast majority of patients do recover.
“The nearest equivalent way of thinking about it is this is something that’s kin to shingles or chickenpox for an adult,” Wolfe said. “So, it certainly causes lots of skin lesions. Skin lesions can be infectious to people who are in immediate sort of close contact to those lesions.”
For the public, Wolfe says this is a very low-risk situation.
No cases of monkeypox have been identified in North Carolina at this time, according to the state health department.
“I think what needs to be said is that this is one case in an entire country and that that remains incredibly rare,” Wolfe said.
NCDHHS issued the following statement to CBS17:
“Public health officials are closely monitoring the situation and developing guidance for clinicians and other partners as we await additional information and guidance from CDC. We will also be using some of our existing surveillance systems, including our syndromic surveillance system and our networks of hospital-based epidemiologists, to make sure we can detect any cases that might occur here.”
For more information on monkeypox, symptoms, treatment, and prevention, visit the CDC website.