The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday that six new cases of monkeypox in adult males were reported last week, nearly doubling the total number of cases in the state. There are now 13 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts.
The first case of monkeypox was discovered in Massachusetts in mid-May. DPH is now updating the public with the current number of cases weekly on Thursday.
Last week, there was only one new case, and the total number of cases stood at seven.
The DPH said it is working with local health officials, patients and healthcare providers to identify people who may have had contact with infected patients.
The DPH said all the six men are in isolation to prevent the spread of the disease to others.
according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a total of 156 cases of monkeypox have been reported in US residents this year. There have been no deaths from the outbreak in the US or globally, the DPH said, and patients usually make a full recovery in two to four weeks.
Nevertheless, the World Health Organization is considering declaring the current outbreak of monkeypox as a global health emergency.
Although many of the initial cases were linked to international travel, recent cases are not, the DPH said. Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a substantial portion 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 increased risk, the DPH said. While the virus does not spread easily between people, people can spread the infection if they develop symptoms.
The DPH said transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids and monkeypox wounds that have been contaminated with fluids or wounds — such as clothing and bedding, or less commonly, through respiratory droplets over a long period of time. Till after face-to-face contact, the DPH said.
Monkeypox can be spread through:
- Direct skin-to-skin contact with rash sores. Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing, when a person is infected.
- Staying at home and sharing a bed with someone. Sharing towels or unwashed clothes.
- Respiratory secretions through face-to-face interaction, primarily from living with or caring for someone who has monkeypox.
Monkeypox is not spread through:
- casual conversation.
- Walking into a grocery store by a person with monkeypox.
- Touching things like door latches.
DPH is asking health professionals to be aware of the potential for monkeypox infection in people who have rashes and illnesses related to monkeypox.
Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, but a rash may be the first symptom, DPH said.
The DPH states that the rash begins to flatten, bulge up, fill with clear fluid and then fill with pus. A person with monkeypox may have multiple lesions or only a few.
You can help prevent monkeypox from spreading by:
- Avoiding large gatherings, such as raves and dance parties, where you may have very close physical contact with others.
- Ask any sexual partner, especially new partner, whose health status and recent travel history you are not familiar with if they have any symptoms of monkeypox.
- Stay informed by reading the information available on the DPH and CDC websites.
If you think you may have monkeypox, you should contact your healthcare provider. If you need to leave your home, wear a mask and cover your rash or wounds when you are around others.
People who live with or care for someone with monkeypox should wear a mask and disposable gloves if they need to have any direct contact with the monkeypox rash, and when handling any clothing or bedding.
They should wash their hands regularly, especially after coming into contact with an infected person or with their clothes, sheets, towels and other objects or surfaces they may have touched.
Physicians should consult the DPH at 617-983-6800 to determine whether a person should be tested for monkeypox.
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