Rare U.S. case of monkeypox reported in Massachusetts man

A grainy black-and-white image of a mottled gray oval on a dark background
A monkeypox virion from a sample associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak, seen with an electron microscope.
(Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Russell Regner / CDC)

Massachusetts reported a rare case of monkeypox Wednesday in a man who recently traveled to Canada — prompting health officials to investigate whether his infection is connected to small outbreaks in Europe.

Monkeypox is typically limited to Africa, and rare cases in the U.S. and elsewhere are usually linked to travel to the continent. A small number of confirmed or suspected cases have been reported this month in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.

U.S. health officials say they are in contact with officials in the U.K. and Canada as part of the investigation. The U.S. case poses no risk to the public, and the Massachusetts resident is hospitalized but in good condition, officials said.


The case is the first in the U.S. this year. Last year, Texas and Maryland reported one case each in people who had traveled to Nigeria.

Pandemics will become ever more common because of our use of animals and the destruction of their habitats.

April 2, 2020

Monkeypox typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body. In Africa, people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, and it does not usually spread easily among people.

However, investigators in Europe say most of the cases have been in gay or bisexual men, and officials are looking into the possibility that some infections were spread through close contact during sex.

Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox. Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to 1 in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization.