- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2022

D.C. health authorities have detected the first suspected monkeypox case in the nation’s capital.

The D.C. Public Health Lab confirmed Sunday that a sample from someone who recently traveled to Europe came back positive for orthopox, a family of viruses.

The city will send the sample to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm that it is monkeypox.

“The patient is currently isolating and does not pose a risk to the public. DC Health is identifying and monitoring close contacts, however, at this time no additional cases have been identified in the District,” D.C. Health said in a news release.

Monkeypox is marked by fevers and an obvious rash. Cases are typically found in West and Central Africa and result in humans from contact with rodents, yet the virus can spread from human to human through close personal contact.

There are 25 known cases in the U.S., but more than 1,000 confirmed or suspected cases have been reported across the globe in non-endemic countries.

Disease trackers are trying to understand why the disease is popping up in new places around the globe. Many of the recent cases involve men who have sex with men, though anyone can catch monkeypox through close personal contact.

Scientists hope the outbreak can be contained since the virus does not spread as efficiently as pathogens like the virus that causes COVID-19.

The new infections share attributes with cases that have been known to circulate in Nigeria. This strain from West Africa is known to be less deadly than the Congo Basin strain, which can kill about one in 10 patients.

Health officials are deploying smallpox vaccines to high-risk contacts of known patients since the shots in national stockpiles can be effective against monkeypox, a related virus.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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