Utah health officials have identified cases of a virus likely to be monkeypox in two Salt Lake City adults who recently traveled to Europe, where dozens of cases of the virus have been confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed and possible cases in the United States up to five.
The Utah cases have not been confirmed to be monkeypox yet. As of right now, health officials are identifying these cases as orthopoxvirus, a genus of viruses that encompasses smallpox, cowpox, horsepox, camelpox, and monkeypox. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Monday that cases identified in the U.S. are “monkeypox until proven otherwise.” To date, two other orthopoxvirus infections have been detected in New York City and Florida, while one case in Massachusetts has been confirmed to be monkeypox.
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“The two infected individuals became symptomatic after travelling internationally earlier this month to an area currently experiencing monkeypox cases,” the Salt Lake County Health Department said. “Both individuals are in isolation and do not present a risk to the public.”
People who were in close contact with the pair will be contacted by state health authorities by the end of the day, according to the department. The patients are not critically ill and are expected to recover fully. Monkeypox typically abates without hospitalization within a few weeks and has a low fatality rate.
Monkeypox is rare and is seldom seen outside of central and west Africa, where it is endemic. The first symptoms to come on include fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, turning into visible rashes and lesions that spread from the head to other parts of the body.
Over the past month, nearly 100 cases have been detected in 12 countries, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, France, Canada, and Australia.
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Most of the cases do not have direct links to travel in and around the African continent, leading scientists to look elsewhere for the genesis of the outbreak. Two raves in Spain and Belgium appear to have been catalysts for spread there, specifically due to sexual transmission. Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it is typically spread between animals and people as well as among people in close contact with one another.