The monkeypox outbreak continues to grow in the Bay State, as health officials in the last week have confirmed six more cases.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Thursday announced the six new monkeypox cases in men, bringing the state’s total number of reported infections to 13. Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to confirm a case related to the emerging global outbreak.
DPH said it’s working with local health officials, the patients, and healthcare providers to identify people who may have been in contact with the patients while they were infectious. All six men are currently isolating to prevent spreading monkeypox to others.
There have been 156 cases of monkeypox virus in U.S. residents this year, according to the CDC. No deaths have been reported related to this global outbreak, and patients generally recover fully in 2 to 4 weeks.
“Although many of the early cases were associated with international travel, recent cases are not,” DPH said in a statement. “Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large proportion of the cases identified to date.
“However, the risk is not limited to the LGBTQ community, and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk,” the agency added.
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While the virus does not spread easily between people, individuals can spread the infection once they develop symptoms.
Transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids and monkeypox sores, by touching items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or less commonly, through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. In many of the recent cases, the locations of the rash lesions suggest transmission during sexual contact
Early symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes, but rash may be the first symptom. Rash lesions start flat, become raised, fill with clear fluid (vesicles), and then become pustules (filled with pus).
“Actions for people to consider to help reduce the risk from monkeypox include: Avoid large gatherings like raves and dance parties where you may have lots of close body contact with others,” DPH said. “Ask any partner, especially new partners whose health status and recent travel history you are not familiar with, if they have any symptoms of monkeypox.”