Understanding the Threat of Monkeypox
This rare virus has been confirmed in the U.S. and Europe
Massachusetts health authorities said Wednesday that they confirmed a case of a rare and sometimes serious viral illness called monkeypox — the first infection identified in the United States this year amid a rash of cases outside the disease’s typical territory.
Monkeypox, which can be passed to animals and humans, is usually found in Central and West Africa. But health authorities in Europe have confirmed more than a dozen cases this month and are investigating dozens more. Some infections confirmed in the United Kingdom “have no travel links” to a place where monkeypox is regularly found, officials said, suggesting the virus may be spreading through the community.
Monkeypox is not known to spread easily between humans. The fact that cases are emerging in several countries at once — with signs of “sustained” transmission in people — is striking, said Aris Katzourakis, a professor of evolution and genomics at the University of Oxford.
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