New York City health officials investigating suspected monkeypox case

NEW YORK — New York City health officials are investigating a suspected case of monkeypox after a patient tested positive for the family of viruses associated with the rare illness, state health officials said Friday.

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The unidentified patient is isolating and treating the case as positive while awaiting final confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Associated Press reported. On Wednesday, Massachusetts health officials confirmed the nation’s first case of monkeypox.

In a news release Thursday, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the patient was being observed at Bellevue Hospital.

The disease can be fatal to 10% of people contracting the virus, the CDC said.

Health officials had said they were investigating two possible cases of monkeypox, but one was ruled out after testing, the AP reported.

The possible infection in New York comes as the World Health Organization has identified about 80 cases globally, and roughly 50 more suspected cases, according to the AP.

According to the CDC, two cases of monkeypox were reported in the U.S. in 2021.

The first was confirmed on July 15, 2021, by the Texas Department of State Health Services, according to the CDC. An American citizen who traveled from Nigeria to the U.S. on two commercial flights was found to have the virus. Health officials identified more than 200 people who had possibly been exposed to the patient, but after 21 days there were no additional cases identified.

>> First case of monkeypox in US this year confirmed in Massachusetts

A second case in the U.S. was identified on Nov. 16, 2021, in Maryland, according to a news release from the Maryland Department of Health. It also involved a person traveling from Nigeria to the U.S., the CDC said.

According to the CDC, monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. The first human case of the virus was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

>> What is monkeypox and what are the symptoms?

In 2003 there were 47 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox across six U.S. states -- Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

All people infected with the virus that year became ill after having contact with pet prairie dogs and was the first time monkeypox had been reported outside of Africa, according to the Journal.

Editorial Note:

On May 21, The Associated Press initially reported that the patient had tested positive for monkeypox. AP later sent a correction on Saturday evening.