The highly contagious disease Monkeypox — a viral cousin of Smallpox — was reported in Maryland this week, marking the second US case in recent months.
The infected person, who recently traveled to Nigeria, had mild symptoms and was recovering in isolation, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
Here’s what you need to know about the potentially fatal illness:
What is Monkeypox?
The disease is endemic to central and western Africa, and was first discovered in lab monkeys in 1958. It’s in the same family as the Smallpox virus, variola, with milder symptoms and a lower fatality rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What are Monkeypox symptoms?
Symptoms include a fever, headache and achy muscles followed by a spotty rash, according to the CDC. The rash generally emerges on the face, spreads to other body parts then fills with fluid before scabbing over and falling off.
In total, the illness generally lasts between two and four weeks.
How does Monkeypox spread?
The virus is believed to be passed through respiratory droplets and face-to-face contact between people. By and large, it is transferred to people through wild animals such as rodents and primates, according to the World Health Organization.
In some cases, animals can also transfer it to people through scratches, bites or the handling of raw meat.
In the most recent Maryland case, health officials said there is little chance the virus would spread. “No special precautions are recommended at this time for the general public,” the Maryland health authorities said.
How does Monkeypox compare to smallpox?
The disease, which is most prevalent in tropical parts of West Africa, has a total fatality rate of around 1 percent, according to WHO. The death rate in the Congo area is higher, however, killing up to 10 percent of infected people.
By contrast, Smallpox has a case fatality rate of about 3 in 10, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
What’s the history of Monkeypox?
The disease was first reported in humans in 1970 then later found in several cases in the US in 2003. Most of those infected patients were reported to have had contact with pet prairie dogs infected by African rodents, according to WHO.
In June, two confirmed cases of the disease were reported in the United Kingdom, and was thought to have been introduced by a woman who “had lived and worked in Delta State, Nigeria,” according to WHO.
A month later, a Texas man who had visited Nigeria, reportedly returned to the US with the disease.
The virus has also been reported in at least 11 other African countries including, Cameroon, and South Sudan.