Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were collaborating with the Maryland Department of Health and other health partners to investigate further.
“Late yesterday, CDC laboratory scientists confirmed the patient had monkeypox and that the infection matches the strain that has been re-emerging in Nigeria since 2017. The person is currently in isolation in Maryland,” the CDC wrote in a Wednesday release.
The Department of Health said in a statement that the person had mild symptoms and is not hospitalized.
Officials noted that the general public doesn’t need to take any special precautions.
The CDC said it was also working with international health counterparts, the airline and state and local health officials in the Washington, D.C. area to reach airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient.
“Travelers on the flight to the United States were required to wear masks on the plane as well as in the U.S. airports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it’s believed the risk of spread of monkeypox virus via respiratory droplets to others on the planes is low. Working with airline and state and local health partners, CDC is 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,” the agency added.
“Public health authorities have identified and continue to follow up with those who may have been in contact with the diagnosed individual,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland Department of Health deputy secretary for public health, said in a statement. “Our response in close coordination with CDC officials demonstrates the importance of maintaining a strong public health infrastructure.”
Health care providers in the U.S. should be vigilant to poxvirus-like lesions, particularly among travelers returning from Nigeria.
Clinicians should report any suspected cases immediately to state or local public health authorities regardless of whether they are also exploring other potential diagnoses.
Monkeypox, which is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, can be spread through direct contact with lesions or body fluids, or contaminated materials like clothing or large respiratory droplets.
The rare but potentially serious viral illness generally causes a milder infection than smallpox.
The illness typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, progressing to a widespread rash on the face and body.
People who may have been exposed in this case will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days after exposure.
Human monkeypox infections primarily occur in central and western African countries.
The CDC said the illness reemerged in Nigeria in 2017, following more than 40 years with no reported cases.
Since then, 218 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria and eight cases have been reported in international travelers from Nigeria, including the current cases and one in Texas last July.
The Associated Press contributed to this report