Man showing signs of Monkeypox

A young man in the Democratic Republic of the Congo shows his hands, which have the characteristic rash of monkeypox during the recuperative stage.

A Maryland resident who recently returned from a trip to Africa has tested positive for the monkeypox virus, according to Maryland health officials.

The Maryland Department of Pubic Health said the undisclosed resident recently returned from a trip to Nigeria, and is showing mild symptoms, and is recovering in isolation while not hospitalized.

Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, but typically leads to a less-serious infection. It can be spread between people through direct contact with skin lesions or body fluids, along with clothing and linens that have been contaminated.  It can also be spread by respiratory droplets, that generally can't travel more than a few feet.

Flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes typically begin monkeypox illnesses, before spreading to a widespread rash on the face and body. Infections typically last 2-4 weeks.

Human monkeypox is primarily found in central and west Africa, and only rarely outside of the continent.

Maryland officials said the typical strains in west Africa, where Nigeria is located, are less severe.

It's the first reported monkeypox case in the United States since 47 cases were reported in 2003 in five midwestern states, including 18 in Wisconsin.

In that case a shipment of animals from Ghana was imported to Texas, including several small rodents that infected prairie dogs in Illinois that were sold prior to showing smallpox symptoms. 

Travelers returning from central or western Africa are advised to notify their health care provider if they develop symptoms of monkeypox, particularly flu-like illness, swollen lymph nodes or rash. Clinicians are urged to maintain a high index of suspicion for clinically compatible illness.

Additional details about human monkeypox cases are available on the CDC’s website.