The World Health Organization has confirmed about 80 cases of monkeypox with recent outbreaks reported in 11 countries, according to a statement Friday from the global health agency.
The outbreaks are unusual because they are occurring in countries where the virus is not endemic, according to the WHO. More cases will likely be reported in the coming days as surveillance expands, the global health agency said.
“WHO is working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease,” the WHO said.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus that is in the same family as smallpox. However, monkeypox is less severe than smallpox. The virus is spread through close contact with people, animals or material infected with it. Health-care workers, household members and sexual partners of people who have the virus are at greater risk, according to the WHO.
“As monkeypox spreads through close contact, the response should focus on the people affected and their close contacts,” the WHO said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a monkeypox case in Massachusetts on Wednesday. The person had recently traveled to Canada using private transportation. New York City is investigating a possible monkeypox case, according to a health department statement Thursday.
Monkeypox usually begins with symptoms similar to the flu including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC. Within 1 to 3 days of fever onset, patients develop a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other body parts.
Monkeypox can result in death for 1 in 10 people who contract the disease based on observations in Africa, according to the CDC. The illness usually lasts for about 2 to 4 weeks.
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