KEY POINTS

  • Monkeypox is a rare but "potentially serious" disease
  • It is caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus
  • Health officials said there is "very little risk to the general public"

Health authorities have confirmed a single case of monkeypox in a patient in Dallas County. It is believed to be the first case of monkeypox infection in a Texas resident.

In a statement Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed a case of human monkeypox in a U.S. resident who recently traveled from Nigeria.

The individual is a Dallas County resident who arrived at Love Field Airport on July 9, the Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) said in a press release. The person is hospitalized in the city and being isolated to prevent the spread of the disease, it said.

According to the DSHS, public health authorities are already reaching out to the passengers who may have been exposed to the individual during the flights from Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Dallas Love Field from July 8 to 9. They are also being instructed on how to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The CDC did note that as the passengers were required to wear face masks during the flight and at the airports because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of monkeypox spreading spread via respiratory droplets is said to be "low."

"While rare, this case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public. Dallas County Health and Human Services is working closely with local providers, as well as our state and federal partners," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said, according to the DCHHS news release.

"We have determined that there is very little risk to the general public. This is another demonstration of the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure, as we are only a plane ride away from any global infectious disease," DCHHS Director Dr. Philip Huang added.

The case comes just about a month after the U.K. also reported cases of monkeypox in two individuals, one of who had worked in Nigeria and the other was a family member whom the patient quarantined with.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare but "potentially serious" disease that is caused by an infection with the monkeypox virus, the CDC explained. It was first discovered in 1958, with the first human case being recorded in 1970.

Although most monkeypox outbreaks have happened in Africa, there have also been cases in nine other countries. In 2003, for instance, there was an outbreak of 47 human monkeypox cases in the U.S.

The illness typically starts with flu-like symptoms and the swelling of lymph nodes. It then develops into a "widespread" rash on the face and also the body.

"Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets," the CDC said. "Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required."

Those who don’t have symptoms are "not capable" of spreading the disease, the DSHS said. The strain of monkeypox, the CDC identified in the current case is said to be fatal in 1 in 100 of the people infected but possibly higher in those with weakened immune systems.

Monkeypox In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient's hand, May 27, 2003. Photo: Getty Images/ Courtesy of CDC