The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring over 200 people in 27 states for potential exposure to monkeypox after their contacts were traced with a Texan who contracted the rare disease while traveling in Nigeria weeks ago.
According to Stat, state and local health officials are working with federal authorities to monitor those who were in contact with the monkeypox patient, who flew into Atlanta international airport on July 8, and then on to Dallas Love airport the next day. One week later, he was diagnosed with the rare disease, which can be transmitted through bodily fluids and respiratory droplets, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox has an incubation period of three to 17 days.
The individuals who came in contact with the man include passengers who sat within six feet of the patient, or used the mid-cabin bathroom during the overseas flight. They will be monitored until July 30, according to the report. Also included are airline workers and family members.
"It is a lot of people," said Andrea McCollum, epidemiologist for the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases. "We’re in the timeframe where we certainly want to closely monitor people."
"We define indirect contact as being within 6 feet of the patient in the absence of an N-95 or any filtering respirator for greater than or equal to three hours," McCollujm continued.
Monkeypox is caused by a virus that is related to smallpox, the only human virus to have been eradicated. It causes less severe illness than smallpox, but is still quite dangerous. The CDC said that the fatality rate for the strain of monkeypox seen in the Dallas case is about 10%.
Monkeypox is rarely seen in people. There was a large outbreak in the U.S. in 2003, when a shipment of animals from Ghana contained several rodents and other small mammals that were infected with the virus; 47 confirmed and probable cases were reported in five states. The outbreak was the first time human cases of monkeypox were reported outside of Africa. -Stat
Nigeria has seen a sharp uptick of monkeypox cases over the past few years, while seven cases have been reported outside its borders; four in the UK, and one in Singapore, Israel and the United States. One of the UK patients was a local healthcare worker who had unprotected contact with a monkeypox patient.
First identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the original source of the monkeypox virus has yet to be identified - however cases have been linked to the handling of bushmeat as well as the trade of exotic small mammals, according to McCollum.
Those who contract the disease experience fever, chills, swollen glands, and its namesake rash that spreads across the body. It can spread via inhalation of respiratory droplets from infected individuals, or contact with their lesions or bodily fluids. It can also be transmitted via bed linens or other items used by an infected person.