As of June 1, Georgia and eight other states have reported suspected cases of monkeypox virus, prompting the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control to mobilize vaccines for distribution. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Georgia’s first suspected case of monkeypox was announced Wednesday as the rare skin-to-skin virus continues to gradually spread across the United States.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conducting confirmation testing to determine if the virus is monkeypox after a metro Atlanta man with a history of international travel was initially diagnosed with the orthopoxvirus, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
In addition to conducting contact tracing, the health department will continue to monitor the man, who is currently isolated at home, as the Georgia case now marks 18 confirmed or suspected cases across nine states as of May 31.
The CDC said it is unclear how the people were exposed to monkeypox, but it is known that cases include men who had sex with men. Health care providers in the U.S. are being urged to be alert to patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have traveled, have certain risk factors for monkeypox or their gender or sexual orientation.
While most victims may suffer from back pain, fever, chills and fatigue, some people also have lesions and pus-filled rashes or other illnesses. Although some strains can be fatal, the virus is considered less dangerous than smallpox, rarely resulting in people needing to be hospitalized and typically requires people to quarantine up to several weeks.
Last week, White House Pandemic Office coordinator Raj Panjabi said that as more cases were expected to crop up, medical experts were working to explain the signs of monkeypox to doctors and the general public.
That also included ramping up laboratory testing capabilities for a virus that can not only be spread by skin-to-skin contact but can also be transmitted through other means such as bed sheets.
Two vaccines have been approved as preventive treatments for monkeypox, as well as antiviral drugs for smallpox that may be useful for monkeypox.
Last fall, the state public health officials monitored more than 40 people in Georgia for potential exposure after a man contracted the virus while on a flight to Nigeria with a connection through Atlanta.
While the number of U.S. cases continues to remain small, so does the number of international cases which have topped more than 550 across 30 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
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