The California Department of Public Health is investigating the first suspected monkeypox case in the state. Monkeypox is comparable to a milder version of smallpox, and the person suspected of infection is a Sacramento County resident who recently traveled abroad.
The first known case of monkeypox in the U.S. was announced last week after a U.S. resident returned from Canada, according to the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The CDC has been tracking the monkeypox spread worldwide and, as of this writing, four other suspected cases have been reported nationally in New York, Florida and Utah.
The spread is concerning because the virus has traditionally been contained within Africa.
The virus is part of the orthopox virus family that also includes smallpox and cowpox. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen glands, and a distinctive rash. The disease typically lasts for 2-4 weeks and most recover, with a fatality rate of 3-6%.
According to the CDC, the virus spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.
The reservoir host of monkeypox is still unknown but African rodents are believed to play a part in transmission. The virus that causes monkeypox has only been traced twice from an animal in nature: once in 1985 from a rope squirrel in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and once in 2012 from a mangabey monkey in Cote d’Ivoire. As of Tuesday, no known or suspected cases of monkeypox are present in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco and Marin, according to health officials.