CDC and Texas Confirm Monkeypox In US Traveler from Nigeria

Sunday, July 18, 2021 09:37 PM / by US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention/ Header Image Credit: 
Treasure Saturne


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed on July 15 a
case of human monkeypox in a U.S. resident who recently traveled from Nigeria
to the United States. The person is currently hospitalized in Dallas. CDC is
working with the airline and state and local health officials to contact
airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient
during two flights: Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta on July 8, with arrival on July
9; and Atlanta to Dallas on July 9.


Travelers on these flights were required to wear
masks as well as in the U.S. airports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, it’s believed the risk of spread of monkeypox via respiratory
droplets to others on the planes and in the airports is low. Working with
airline and state and local health partners, CDC is assessing potential risks
to those who may have had close contact with the traveler on the plane and
specific settings.


Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral
illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph
nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body. Most infections
last 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but
causes a milder infection. In this case, laboratory testing at CDC showed the
patient is infected with a strain of monkeypox most commonly seen in parts of
West Africa, including Nigeria. Infections with this strain of monkeypox are
fatal in about 1 in 100 people. However, rates can be higher in people who have
weakened immune systems.


Prior to the current case, there have been at least
six reported monkeypox cases in travelers returning from Nigeria (including
cases in the United Kingdom, Israel, and Singapore). This case is not related
to any of these previous cases. In the United Kingdom, several additional
monkeypox cases occurred in people who had contact with cases.


Background on Monkeypox in Africa

Experts have yet to identify where monkeypox hides
in nature, but it’s thought that African rodents and small mammals play a part
in spreading the virus to people and other forest animals like monkeys. People
can get monkeypox when they are bitten or scratched by an animal, prepare wild
game, or have contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.
Monkeypox can also spread between people through respiratory droplets, or
through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or items that have been
contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.) Human-to-human
transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets.
Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged
face-to-face contact is required.


Most monkeypox outbreaks have occurred in Africa.
In addition to Nigeria, outbreaks have also been reported in nine other
countries in central and western Africa since 1970. Monkeypox also caused a
large outbreak in people in the United States in 2003 after the virus spread
from imported African rodents to pet prairie dogs.


CDC poxvirus experts have been supporting the
investigation and response to Nigeria’s monkeypox flare-ups since 2017 when the
disease re-emerged in Nigeria after a nearly 40-year stint with no reported
cases. During 2017, CDC sent investigators to assist the Nigerian CDC and the
National Veterinary Research Institute with tracing contacts of ill patients,
providing diagnostic tests, training lab staff in country to safely test
samples from suspect monkeypox cases, providing diagnostic tests and capturing small
mammals to test for monkeypox (which would help identify which animals carry
the disease in nature).


Scientists at CDC labs in Atlanta have also
provided laboratory testing, including specialized tests to identify people who
may have had monkeypox and recovered, sequencing to trace outbreaks and
phylogenetics to determine if clusters of cases were related. CDC continues to
train Nigerian partners in how to collect wildlife to test for which animals
carry the virus in nature, helping to improve the country’s ability to track
monkeypox cases in people and interview community members about their
interactions with local wildlife. CDC is also running trials in Democratic
Republic of Congo to assess whether the smallpox vaccine Jynneos may help
protect healthcare workers from contracting undiagnosed monkeypox infections
from their patients.

 Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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