Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body.
It comes from a strain that has been re-emerging from Nigeria since 2017 after 40 years with no reported cases, according to laboratory scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those with monkeypox are likely to have lesions, and travelers returning from Nigeria should watch out for symptoms. Because of the health risks associated with a single case of monkeypox, the CDC has asked clinicians to report suspected cases immediately to state or local public health authorities regardless of whether they are also exploring other potential diagnoses.
People can catch monkeypox by coming in contact with infected animals or animal products, including by preparing wild game or being bitten or scratched by an animal, according to the CDC.
Is monkeypox contagious?
Yes, but it depends on what stage you are in.
Monkeypox has three stages, according to the CDC.
The first stage is an incubation period where the virus takes hold right after the person is infected. It can range from five to 21 days, and the person is not contagious at this point.
The second stage is the prodrome phase, where the person shows early symptoms and could be contagious. These include fever, malaise, headache, sore throat and cough and swollen lymph nodes.
The third stage is a rash, when lesions develop on the mouth and body of the person. Until all the scabs have fallen off, the person will be contagious. The whole stage can last about three weeks.
Experts believe human-to-human transmission of monkeypox occurs primarily through large respiratory droplets.
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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, lowering the risk of the monkeypox virus spreading to others on the plane. However, it's still possible that the patient interacted with others before boarding or after departing the plane.
Since 2017, 218 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria and eight cases have been reported in international travelers from Nigeria, says the CDC, including a case in Texas in July 2021 and the current case.
Last case of monkeypox in the United States: Texas resident hospitalized with rare monkeypox diagnosis 18 years after outbreak in US
The last case in the United States involved a Texas resident who traveled from Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta to Dallas. The Texas Department of State Health Services stated that it was the first case of monkeypox in the state, and the Texas patient was also hospitalized in isolation.
Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection, but contagion can be managed, the CDC says.
The most recent patient is currently isolating in Maryland as the CDC works with international health counterparts, the airline and health officials in the Washington, DC area to contact those who may have been in contact with the patient.
You can follow the author Michelle Shen @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Monkeypox in Maryland? Person shows symptoms of contagious disease