On Tuesday, November 16, the Maryland Department of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a single case of monkeypox virus infection. The resident from Maryland is said to have recently returned from Nigeria, exhibiting mild symptoms, and is now under-recovery in isolation.
First Monkeypox Case in the US
ABC 7 News reported that public health officials continue to follow up passengers in the same flight or those who had close contact with the person who got infected with the monkeypox virus.
“Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure,” the news outlet quoted MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan.
Human transmission of the monkeypox virus has been previously recorded in central and western African nations and only six times were reported outside Africa. But strains of the virus may also cause infection, although it might be less severe.
Public health officials advised those who are returning from central or western Africa to notify their healthcare provider immediately in case they experience symptoms of monkeypox, such as flu, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes.
Natural Reservoir of Monkeypox Virus Remains a Mystery
According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus was first discovered in 1958 when colonies of monkeys that were kept for research suffered from a pox-like outbreak. The first human case of infection was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo efforts to eliminate smallpox were intensified.
After that incident, the monkeypox virus has been infecting humans in central and western Africa. So far, only six times were recorded outside Africa in which 47 cases were reported in the US in 2003; three cases in the UK and one case in Israel in 2018; then in 2019, there is one case in the US and three cases in the UK; and the most recent one is in the US in 2021.
Unfortunately, health experts have yet to pinpoint the natural reservoir of the virus, although they are suspecting African rodent species must have played a significant role in transmission.