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Maryland resident has monkeypox after traveling to Nigeria

A resident of Maryland has tested positive for a monkeypox infection after a recent trip to Nigeria, according to state health officials.

The Maryland Department of Health said in a statement Tuesday that it confirmed “a single case of monkeypox virus infection in a Maryland resident who recently returned from Nigeria.”

Health officials also said the person had “mild symptoms” and was recovering in isolation. They said the person was not in a hospital and advised the public that “no special precautions are recommended at this time.”

Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but generally causes a milder infection. It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions, bodily fluids or contaminated materials such as clothing or linens. It can also be spread via large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, and prolonged face-to-face contact is required for that means of transmission.

According to health officials, human cases of monkeypox occur mainly in countries in West and Central Africa. Officials said cases “have only rarely been documented outside of Africa.”

Monkeypox “re-emerged in Nigeria in 2017 after more than 40 years with no reported cases,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials at the CDC also said that since 2017, 218 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria. It said eight cases have been reported in international travelers from Nigeria, including a case in Texas in July 2021 and the current case in Maryland.

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The CDC said it is “working with airline and state and local health partners” in “assessing potential risks to those who may have had close contact with the traveler on the plane and after their arrival in the United States.”

Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health, Jinlene Chan, said that “public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual.”

“Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure,” Chan added in Maryland’s statement on the case.

The symptoms of monkeypox are much like those of flu, according to health officials. They also can include swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash on the body and face. Typically, infections last two to four weeks.

Travelers returning to the area from Central or West Africa, officials said, should contact their doctor if they “develop symptoms of monkeypox, particularly flu-like illness, swollen lymph nodes or rash.” Officials said doctors should “maintain a high index of suspicion for clinically compatible illness.”

Story cited here.

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