THURSDAY, May 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The first U.S. case this year of a rare and potentially fatal virus known as monkeypox has been diagnosed in a man in Massachusetts who recently traveled to Canada, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

The illness does occasionally arise in the United States, but the Massachusetts case comes on the heels of unusual outbreaks during the past few weeks of monkeypox in Britain, Canada, Portugal, and Spain — countries that typically do not see such cases because monkeypox is largely endemic to Africa.

“It’s not clear how people in those clusters were exposed to monkeypox but cases include individuals who self-identify as men who have sex with men,” the agency said in a statement. “CDC is urging health care providers in the U.S. to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox.”

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the man who contracted monkeypox did so after traveling to Canada. After testing confirmed monkeypox infection on Tuesday, health officials said they are “working closely with the CDC, relevant local boards of health, and the patient’s health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious.”

Currently, “the case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition,” the Massachusetts health officials said, adding that “no monkeypox cases have previously been identified in the United States in 2022; Texas and Maryland each reported a case in 2021 in people with recent travel to Nigeria.”

“Many of these global reports of monkeypox cases are occurring within sexual networks,” Inger Damon, M.D., the director of the CDC Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said in the agency’s statement. “However, health care providers should be alert to any rash that has features typical of monkeypox. We’re asking the public to contact their health care provider if they have a new rash and are concerned about monkeypox.”

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