First monkeypox case detected in Philadelphia

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.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File

A Philadelphia resident has been diagnosed with monkeypox, becoming the first person in Pennsylvania to contract the virus, which has been spreading around the world to areas not typically affected by the disease.

City health officials revealed the probable case Thursday afternoon but did not disclose any information about the patient.

Preliminary testing at a state lab indicated the person was positive for monkeypox, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to confirm the case, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Experts are investigating how the person was infected with monkeypox, and the health department is planning to directly reach out to anyone who might have been exposed.

“The threat to Philadelphians from monkeypox is extremely low,” said Dana Perella, acute communicable disease program manager for the health department. “Monkeypox is much less contagious than COVID-19 and is containable particularly when prompt care is sought for symptoms.”

In the U.S., monkeypox has been detected in 10 states, and there are currently 19 total cases, according to the CDC.

Health officials encourage anyone with an unexpected rash to contact their doctor. The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms.

Previously, the virus was mostly contained to outbreaks in central and western Africa, where the disease is endemic in some countries.

Cases in Europe may have stemmed from two recent raves, and the CDC has said early data shows monkeypox appears to show up more frequently in men who have sex with men.

Monkeypox is primarily spread through direct, close contact with someone who is infected.

In addition to the rash, which can appear in the genital area, symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph nodes.

The sores go through several stages before they scab over and fall off, at which point patients are no longer considered contagious.

In most cases, patients recover on their own, but treatments are available, as are vaccines for those who have been exposed or who are particularly vulnerable.

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