A fifth person has tested positive for what is believed to be monkey pox in New York City, city health officials said late Thursday night.
That makes three new cases in less than 36 hours for a previously rare disease that is now spreading so quickly that top world health officials say they don’t know if it’s “too late to contain it.”
On Thursday afternoon, the CDC said there were 21 confirmed cases of the recent outbreak nationwide. That’s more than double in a week.
Globally, the World Health Organization has identified infections from the current outbreak in at least 12 countries.
The WHO says so far there is no link between this outbreak and travel to countries where the virus is already endemic.
“We don’t really know if it’s too late to contain it. What the WHO and all member states are trying to do is prevent further spread,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO technical leader on monkey pox, at a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday. †
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, when outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research – resulting in its name. (What you need to know about monkey pox.)
The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where most infections still exist. Other African countries where it is found: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
Human monkeypox symptoms are similar to but milder than smallpox symptoms, the CDC says. It presents as a flu-like illness accompanied by swelling of the lymph nodes and a rash on the face and body.
Monkeypox starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. Monkeypox also causes lymph nodes to swell, which smallpox does not. The incubation period is usually 7-14 days, but can range from 5-21 days.
The CDC is urging health care providers in the US to be alert to patients who have a rash consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have traveled or have specific risks for monkeypox. View more information from the travel report here.