Monkeypox Symptoms Explained As CDC Monitors Over 200 People for Disease in U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring more than 200 people across the country for a disease called monkeypox after a case was confirmed in July.

On July 16, the CDC said the patient, a U.S. resident, was hospitalized with the virus in Dallas after having recently returned to the country from Nigeria.

The health agency said it was working with Texas state officials as well as the airline the patient flew with to get in touch with passengers who potentially could have caught it.

Andrea McCollum, head of the CDC's poxvirus epidemiology unit at the National Center for Emerging and Zootonic Infectious Diseases, told medical news site Stat News the agency was monitoring "a lot of people." The outlet claimed over 200 people in 27 states were being assessed.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. It was first discovered in 1958 in groups of research monkeys, and the first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Outside of Africa, Monkeypox has been documented in just four countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore.

Symptoms of the disease are similar to smallpox but are milder. The illness tends to start with fever, headache, muscle ache, and exhaustion. It also causes swollen lymph nodes, which smallpox does not.

A few days after developing a fever the patient will begin to show a rash which often starts on the face and spreads from there.

The rash is made up of marks on the skin, which tend to start as macules, or a flat, discoloured area of skin less than a centimeter wide.

These macules then become raised and eventually fill with fluid. They then turn into pustules, which are bumps on the skin that contain pus. Finally they turn into scabs before falling off.

The CDC states that monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as one in 10 people who catch it. The disease lasts for around two to four weeks.

People tend to show symptoms between seven and 14 days after they are infected.

Monkeypox can be spread in multiple ways. One way is when the virus enters the body through broken skin. Other ways people can catch it is by breathing it in or getting it in their eyes, nose, or mouth. It can be spread from animals to humans as well as from humans to other humans.

There is currently no proven, safe treatment for the disease.

The CDC states people can prevent themselves from catching it by avoiding contact with infected animals and people, avoiding materials that have been in contact with those animals or people, and washing hands with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with infected animals or humans, and wearing PPE.

The CDC also states a smallpox vaccine as well as antivirals and vaccinia immune globulin can be used to control an outbreak in the U.S. Jynneos is a vaccine that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for monkeypox prevention.

Monkeypox lesion
A CDC handout photo from 2003 shows monkeypox symptoms present on a patient's hand. The illness can spread between humans and can also be caught from animals. Getty / CDC