A worrisome international outbreak of monkeypox, a less harmful cousin of the smallpox virus, has now reached the United States and Canada.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease, which generally occurs in remote parts of Central and West Africa. The virus was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys. The first known human case occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it has since been reported in humans in other central and western African countries, according to the CDC.
As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases of the illness, and 28 more suspected cases, have been reported across 12 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Cases of monkeypox had previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa, according to the Associated Press. But in the past week, the United States was among seven countries reporting infections, mostly in young men who hadn’t previously traveled to Africa.
France, Germany, Belgium and Australia confirmed their first cases on Friday, the AP reported.
Between 1 and 5 confirmed cases are currently under investigation in the United States, WHO said.
The latest wave of monkeypox was first seen in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and other parts of Europe in early May. On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was monitoring six people in the United States for possible infection. They sat near one infected traveler on a flight from Nigeria to the United Kingdom in early May.
CDC officials are also investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in a Massachusetts man who recently traveled to Canada, according to CNN. And the New York City Health Department is probing a possible infection in a patient at Bellevue Hospital there.
The illness begins with fever, swollen lymph nodes and other flu-like symptoms (chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue), followed by a telltale rash on the face that spreads to other areas, including genitals, hands and feet.
The rash typically affects the…