KEY POINTS

  • The CDC is monitoring about 200 cases of monkeypox across the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Symptoms of monkeypox include rashes, fever and swollen lymph nodes, according to doctors
  • Experts encourage the public to get vaccinated as there is still no known cure for monkeypox

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring a new disease spreading in the United States — monkeypox.

About 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported across 27 states in the country after a Texas man, who took a flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Atlanta, before landing in Dallas on July 9, was rushed to a local hospital and was diagnosed with monkeypox on July 15, according to WebMD.

Monkeypox is a rare disease first discovered in a group of lab monkeys in 1958. Belonging to the same family as smallpox, symptoms of monkeypox include aching muscles, fever and backache.

“Its clinical symptoms include fever, rashes, and swollen lymph nodes,” said Dr. Jay Gupta, the Director of Florida Golf Coast University’s Public Health Program. “It typically lasts between two to four weeks.”

The disease manifests through hive-like welts that form throughout the body, ABC 7 News has learned.

The CDC said that the monkeypox outbreak could have been caused by the close confines of the airplane. Health officials are now closely monitoring people who sat within six feet of the traveler from Texas, as well as flight attendants, passengers who used a particular bathroom during the flight, and family members who interacted with the patient.

“It’s believed the risk of spread of monkeypox on the plane and in the airports is low, as travelers were required to wear masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and monkeypox is primarily spread through respiratory droplets,” said the CDC.

Scientists said the monkeypox virus is spread the same way as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The disease can be transmitted from human to human through respiratory droplets.

Despite this, monkeypox is known to only cause mild illness among those who contract it and possesses a low fatality rate.

“Case fatality rate is somewhere between 1-10%,” said Dr. Gupta. “People, like us, who have been vaccinated for smallpox in childhood may have some degree of immunity against Monkeypox," he added before noting the importance of getting vaccinated as there is no current cure for the disease.

“Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection,” said the CDC. “For purposes of controlling a monkeypox outbreak in the United States, smallpox vaccine, antivirals, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used.”

monkeypox case confirmed monkeypox case confirmed Photo: suju - Pi