KEY POINTS

  • New York City is investigating a possible monkeypox case
  • Massachusetts recently reported the first U.S. case for the year
  • 'Many of these global reports of monkeypox cases are occurring within sexual networks,' a poxvirus expert said

New York -- New York City authorities are looking into a possible monkeypox case, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking the recent clusters of cases in various countries.

Health authorities in New York City are investigating a possible case of monkeypox, and the patient is said to be being cared for at Bellevue Hospital while waiting for the preliminary test results. If it turns out positive, then the results will be sent to the CDC for "confirmatory testing," authorities noted.

The news comes after Massachusetts reported a confirmed case of monkeypox Wednesday in an adult male who recently went on a trip to Canada, marking the first U.S. case of the year. Also this week, the U.K. logged additional monkeypox cases to the ones reported earlier in the month, while Portugal and Spain said they were investigating suspected cases. France also reported a suspected case in the Paris region Thursday.

Monkeypox is a "rare but potentially serious viral illness" that can cause a flu-like illness, swelling of the lymph nodes and rashes that start on the face and body. The CDC announced Wednesday that it is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Health on the investigations and tracking the clusters that are being reported in the "countries that don't normally report monkeypox."

While monkeypox cases outside of the areas where it is endemic have typically been linked to international travel or imported animals, some of the reported cases did not have a history of travel. Authorities have also noted a possible link to "transmission through mucus during sexual relations." 

"Many of these global reports of monkeypox cases are occurring within sexual networks," Inger Damon, MD, Ph.D., poxvirus expert, said in the CDC news release.

"Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox," the CDC noted, adding that it can also be transmitted via respiratory droplets in close settings.

As such, the agency is urging people who may have symptoms of monkeypox to be on alert for any possible "unusual rashes," particularly among men who report sex with other men, as some of the cases were reported in these groups.

It is also urging health care providers to consider monkeypox, whether or not the patient has had travel to a central or west African country, and to not limit their considerations to men who have sex with other men.

"Those who have any sort of close personal contact with people with monkeypox could potentially also be at risk for the disease," the CDC said.

"(H)ealth care providers should be alert to any rash that has features typical of monkeypox," Damon said. "We're asking the public to contact their health care provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox."

CDC microscopic image shows monkeypox virus particles An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022. Photo: Reuters / CYNTHIA S. GOLDSMITH, RUSSELL RE