A woman in Northern Virginia has become the ninth case of monkeypox to be detected in the U.S., it was revealed Thursday amid warnings the virus may now be spreading in the country.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, State health chiefs said the patient recently returned from an African country ‘where the disease is known to occur. She is isolated at home and has a mild illness. It was not clear whether the latest case was linked to the current outbreak, which is mostly among gay and bisexual men.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned in a briefing today that ‘some community transmission’ of the virus may now be happening in the United States. She did not reveal how many cases were linked to international travel, although the CDC said on Monday it was every infection.
Experts in Europe — where most cases are being detected — say the outbreak there may be linked to unsafe sex at two mass gatherings in Spain and Belgium. In the U.S. two cases have so far been confirmed in Florida and Utah, and one each in California, Massachusetts, New York City, and Florida.
But globally more than 200 infections have been detected across 23 countries including the UK, France, Italy, Israel and Australia. Americans traveling abroad are being told to take ‘enhanced precautions’ due to the outbreak, including avoiding sick people and animals.
According to health officials, the Northern Virginia woman recently traveled to a country in Africa “where the disease is known to occur.” VDH says the woman “was not infectious during travel.” She is currently isolated at her home and VDH says she was not hospitalized. Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Colin Greene called the disease “rare” in a statement and said the woman’s diagnosis “does not pose a risk to the public.”
“There’s no kind of public health risk from this particular person, contact tracing is underway and so you know, we’ve kind of jumped in there and interrupted this particular chain of transmission,” Dr. Brandy Darby, a Veterinary Epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health said.
Darby said there is a possibility there could be continued spread in other areas in the coming days and weeks, but reiterated monkeypox is a rare illness. “I think everyone’s a little on edge after COVID. We certainly have some things that are working for us in our favor. And that is that monkeypox generally, you know, going from person to person just isn’t as transmissible as COVID-19, you really do need to be in quite close contact with an infected person for that transmission to occur,” Darby said.
The CDC says a U.S. resident first tested positive for monkeypox after returning from Canada on May 18. The agency has been tracking “clusters of monkeypox that have been reported in early- to mid-May in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including in Europe and North America.”