New York investigates possible case of monkeypox


New York investigates possible case of monkeypox

The past week has been busy for New York City health officials as subvariants of the coronavirus have once again put New York City at high risk for transmission of COVID-19, the flu has returned and a lesser-known (albeit old) health problem has surfaced – Monkey pox.

On Friday, the New York State Department of Health released information about two possible cases of monkeypox being investigated in New York City – after the US saw its first confirmed case in a Massachusetts resident on Wednesday.

The Public Health Lab of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health ruled out monkeypox in one case after specimen testing, while the other was positive for orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses that includes monkeypox. The state is awaiting official confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is conducting contact tracing for the case.

Monkeypox is similar to smallpox in that it causes lesions all over the body and can lead to serious illness; 1 in 10 people who contracted it in Africa have died, according to the CDC.

This particular smallpox virus was first discovered in Africa in the late 1950s and was named for the laboratory monkeys from which the virus appears to have originated. The first human case was found in 1970.

The first time monkeypox was reported outside of Africa was in 2003, when there were 47 confirmed and probable cases in the US after patients had contact with prairie dogs; The prairie dogs appeared to have contracted the virus while housed near small mammals imported from Ghana.

Monkeypox has since been found in the US; there were two cases last year, but both patients had recently arrived from Nigeria. State health officials said people are often directly exposed to monkeypox through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, the preparation of game, or through contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products. “Based on previous outbreaks, the virus does not usually spread easily between people,” the state health department said.

But in the case of Massachusetts last week, the person arrived from Canada. Also, the CDC said it is tracking multiple clusters of monkeypox that were reported in early to mid-May in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including Europe.

So, is monkeypox something to worry about?

“Based on the limited information currently available, the risk to the general public appears low,” the state health agency said Friday.

Monkeypox is considered a rare virus, and while it can be spread through respiratory droplets, contracting it requires very close contact with an infected person over a period of time – as opposed to the more random way many viruses – including coronavirus – spread. spread. It can also be transmitted through close skin-to-skin contact with an infected person – increasing the chances that it is not accidentally transmitted.

Still, the CDC is urging healthcare providers across the United States to be mindful of patients with monkeypox-related rashes, whether they have traveled or not. New Yorkers suffering from a flu-like illness with swollen lymph nodes
and rashes on the face and body should contact their doctor, state health officials say — especially if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has similar symptoms or has traveled.

“Reports of suspected cases of monkeypox in the United States and elsewhere are concerning,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement. “While a possible case in New York State awaits confirmatory testing by our local and federal partners, the department has notified health care providers in New York State so they can consider this unusual diagnosis if their patients exhibit symptoms.”

Last week, the state Department of Health also issued a warning about a renewed spread of the influenza virus. While cases rose 25 percent in the first week of May, this week’s data release, which ended May 14, showed a slight decline again.

The flu was almost non-existent in New York during the 2020-2021 season as coronavirus protocols limited its spread. Influenza picked up in December, but after a dip, it came back in mid-February — around the time mask mandates were lifted in New York. The state Department of Health on Wednesday issued an advisory to public and private schools “to remind administrators to contact their local health department if they have confirmed or confirmed an increase in school absences due to a flu-like illness (fever with cough or sore throat). monitor flu outbreaks. “

But what do coronavirus, influenza and monkeypox have in common? All of the state’s statements on the health threats over the past week have established one thing: indoor masking could limit all viruses.

“Masks can protect against monkeypox and other viruses circulating in New York City, such as COVID-19,” the city’s health department said in a statement Friday. “The department continues to recommend masks in public indoor spaces.”

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