Days after unusual clusters of the rare monkeypox virus emerged in Europe, New York City health officials announced Thursday that they are investigating a possible case of the rare disease.
Authorities said little about the patient, who is currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital, according to a statement from the city’s health department. The patient arrived at the hospital on Thursday, an official said.
Samples from patients will be sent to the city’s public health lab for preliminary testing, and if it comes back positive, samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm if the disease is in fact monkeypox, authorities say. sanitary .
News of the possible case comes a day after a Massachusetts man was diagnosed with the disease. He had recently traveled to Canada, which is currently investigating more than 15 suspected cases in and around Montreal.
Clusters of monkeypox cases have recently been identified in Britain and Portugal, while Spain is investigating suspected cases of the virus. Sweden and Italy reported cases on Thursday. Patients in Britain and those in Canada are mostly men who have sex with men.
According to the CDC, monkeypox can be spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person, as well as through contact with bodily fluids and wounds for which the virus is known. It can also be spread via contaminated objects.
The viral illness is related to smallpox, but it is milder and less contagious. It usually does not cause large outbreaks.
The first outbreak in the United States occurred nearly 20 years ago and likely infected some 47 people. It is thought to have started with the importation of infected squirrels and other rodents from Ghana. They in turn infected prairie dogs which were then sold as pets.
Infected people usually have a fever and body aches before developing the disease’s characteristic rash. The red bumps turn into pus-filled blisters that form a crust. The disease can be treated with an antiviral drug.
City health officials said Thursday that investigators will try to locate people who had recent contact with the patient in Bellevue.