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A 'presumptive' case of monkeypox is under investigation in Broward County

Europe Monkeypox
via AP
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

The case appears to be related to international travel and the patient is in isolation. Health officials are notifying people who may have been exposed to the patient.

A "presumptive" case of monkeypox is being investigated in Broward County, state health officials said Sunday.

County health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating the case, which appears to be related to international travel, the Florida Department of Health in Broward said in a news release.

The person is in isolation, and local Department of Health officials are notifying people who may have been exposed to the patient. Health officials provided no further details about the case.

The Department of Health said that risk of exposure is low since its requires contact with lesions or items that have been contaminated by lesions. If a person has received the smallpox vaccine, the department said there is likely cross-protection against monkeypox.

Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. The disease is rarely identified outside of Africa, but as of Friday, there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide and another 50 suspected ones.

A patient in Massachusetts had not recently traveled to countries where the disease occurs but had visited Canada.

New York health officials are investigating a potential case after a patient tested positive for the family of viruses associated with the illness. The patient is isolating and treating the case as positive while awaiting confirmation.

A day after saying the monkeypox outbreak was something “to be concerned about,” President Joe Biden said he does not see the need to institute strict quarantine measures.

Biden. who spoke about the matter in Tokyo, said he doesn't think monkeypox rises to the level of concern that existed with COVID-19. He added that the smallpox vaccine works for monkeypox and the U.S. has enough stockpile of that vaccine to handle it.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said the president was getting regular updates on the outbreak. He told reporters that the United States has a supply of “vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox.”

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first vaccine for monkeypox, which also protects against smallpox. The vaccine is also part of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), the agency said.

Monkeypox causes fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes and eventually "pox," or painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet. One version of monkeypox is quite deadly and kills up to 10% of people infected. The version currently in England is milder. Its fatality rate is less than 1%. A case generally resolves in two to four weeks.

Transmission of this viral disease requires close, prolonged contact with an infected person's lesions or indirectly with contaminated items. Scientists are still investigating where people caught the virus in this outbreak. There's evidence it could be spreading through sexual contact.

A doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group has described the unprecedented outbreak in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, said the leading theory was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Last week, epidemiologist Susan Hopkins, who's the chief medical adviser of the U.K. Health Security Agency, said: "We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay."

Information from NPR was used in this report.

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