A man who traveled to Canada was diagnosed with the monkeypox virus, a rare and potentially deadly disease, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Wednesday.

This is the first report of monkeypox this year in the United States. Last year, officials in Texas and Maryland recorded one case each. But the new case comes after a series of unusual clusters in other countries that have begun to alert health officials.

In the last few weeks, the UK has detected nine cases of monkeypox. Only one patient recently traveled – to Nigeria, where a strain of monkeypox virus was common – while the rest of the British patients who did not travel may have been infected through a public broadcast. Three patients lived on the same farm.

There are 23 suspected cases in Spain. Portugal has confirmed five cases and is investigating 15 more. Health officials in Canada are investigating at least 15 possible cases in Montreal, according to an infectious disease specialist who was familiar with the effort but was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

“The fact that he is in the UK in several unrelated clusters, as well as in Spain and Portugal, is a surprise,” said Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the John Hopkins Health Center at Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Monkeypox is a benign version of the smallpox virus that can be treated with an antiviral drug designed to treat smallpox. But unlike measles, covid or flu, monkeypox doesn’t usually cause big outbreaks.

Clinicians need to be aware of the symptoms so they can quickly detect new cases, Dr. Inglesby said.

Infection with monkeypox begins with fever and body aches. Its most famous feature is the characteristic rash that starts with flat red spots, then becomes raised and filled with pus.

Pustules appear on the face, chest and palms, “which is somewhat unusual,” Dr. Inglesby said.

The virus is endemic in some parts of Central and West Africa and can spread through the bites or scratches of rodents and small mammals. According to the World Health Organization, known risk factors are contact with living and dead animals through hunting and consumption of game or meat bushes.

In 2003, there was an outbreak of monkeys in the United States with dozens of cases. It was believed that they all appeared as a result of contact with infected meadow dogs and other pets.

The virus does not jump between people, but can spread through biological fluids, infected objects, or through respiratory droplets ejected by an infected person. Cases reported in the UK and Canada have been mostly among men who have sex with men.

“These recent cases, together with reports of cases across Europe, confirm our initial concerns that monkeypox may be spreading in our communities,” said Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Agency. on Tuesday. “It’s rare and unusual.”

Men in these communities should watch for rashes or injuries on any part of their body, especially on the genitals, experts say.

Health officials in Massachusetts are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the patient’s health workers to identify individuals who may have been in contact if he was infectious, officials said in a statement.

According to officials, the man is hospitalized and is in good condition.

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