Monkeypox: CDC monitoring more than 200 people in 25 US states

As cases of the coronavirus and its contagious delta variant continue to rise, U.S. health officials are monitoring another virus: monkeypox. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the organization is currently working with state and local health departments to follow up with individuals who may have been exposed to monkeypox — a viral disease that occurs mostly in central and western Africa.

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"Currently over 200 individuals in 25 states and a few other countries have been identified for monitoring, none of whom are considered at high risk," the CDC said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. 

Individuals in several other countries are also being monitored.

However, the risk to the general public is thought to be low, according to the agency.

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This news follows an initial report of a patient being treated for monkeypox in Texas after arriving there from Nigeria earlier this month.

Prior to landing in Dallas, where the patient was later hospitalized, the traveler made a stop in Atlanta.

Last week, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) reported the person who tested positive was isolated at the hospital to prevent the spread of the virus and was in stable condition.

The CDC said the individuals at risk were either on flights or had known contact with the patient, who contracted monkeypox. 

"CDC has sent notifications to clinicians and is in contact with public health authorities across the country and internationally to ensure that people who may have been exposed can be monitored and will receive prompt treatment if they become ill," the health agency continued. "Early treatment and isolation of people who develop symptoms of monkeypox also helps to further prevent the spread of the disease."

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The investigation is currently ongoing. The case numbers may change slightly in the days to follow, but as of Friday, no additional cases have been identified. 

At the moment, there are no proven, safe treatments available for monkeypox, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Symptoms of the illness include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Usually, within 1 to 3 days after a fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. 

How long does monkeypox last?

The illness typically lasts for 2 to 4 weeks. 

Has anyone died from monkeypox?

In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.

Those having already weak immune systems are at highest risk, according to the CDC.

"We have determined that there is very little risk to the general public. This is another demonstration of the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure, as we are only a plane ride away from any global infectious disease," DCHHS Director Dr. Philip Huang said in a release.

History of monkeypox

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. This is how the virus got its name ‘monkeypox.’

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. 

It was last detected in the U.S. in 2003, when 47 cases were found, the agency says.

More CDC information about monkeypox can be found here.