A DALLAS resident has become the first confirmed case of the monkeypox virus in the US in two decades.
The scare has sparked concerns of an outbreak after the patient flew from Nigeria to Atlanta and then on to Dallas, but health officials have urged calm.
Why is monkeypox called monkeypox?
The rare disease was first identified when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease were detected in a group of monkeys kept for research.
According to WHO, the monkeypox virus has similar features to the more dangerous human smallpox – hence its name.
More than 30 cases of the virus were reported in the animals at the time – but none of the creatures died and there was no spread from monkeys to humans.
Danish virologist Preben von Magnus was the one to identify the naturally occurring pox infection in crab-eating macaques – the species of monkey – fifty days after their arrival on a ship from Singapore.
When was monkeypox first discovered?
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 amongst the laboratory monkeys, before tests later found evidence of infection in various rodent species.
The first human case of the viral zoonotic disease was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a nine-year-old boy.
The virus spreads through close physical contact and infiltrates the body through broken skin, respiratory droplets or contaminated objects.
Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.
A rash can then develop, which spreads before eventually developing into oozing scabs that then fall off.
It has a mortality rate of between one in 100 people, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
Where is monkeypox found?
Monkeypox is typically passed on to people from wild animals, like rodents and primates, and is most often found in Central and West Africa in areas where there are tropical rainforests.
However, other countries have reported outbreaks after travelers have contracted the virus and exported it with them.
In 2003, the US confirmed a number of monkeypox cases involving around 47 people who had been in contact with pet prairie dogs that were infected by African rodents which had been imported into the country from Ghana.
Cases have also been reported most recently in Israel, the United Kingdom and Singapore. The UK confirmed another three cases in 2021.
Similarly to the patient who is currently hospitalized with monkeypox in Dallas, the disease was identified after returning from a trip to Nigeria.
In the case of the sick Texan, the stain of monkeypox is the milder West African strain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Friday.
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