Last week, a U.S. resident was hospitalized in Dallas, following confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services that they had contracted monkeypox after a trip to Nigeria.
While the CDC stressed that all flights the individual traveled on — from Lagos, Nigeria, to Atlanta, Ga., then from Atlanta to Dallas — required masks for its passengers, the organization is working with airline personnel, as well as state and local health partners, contacting passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient during their flights on July 8 and 9, 2021.
While rare, monkeypox can be a serious viral illness that begins with a flu-like illness and swollen lymph nodes before progressing to a body-wide rash. Most infections last 2-4 weeks, but it is fatal in about 1 in 100 patients, and it is hazardous to those with weakened immune systems. In this case, lab testing showed the strain was of the kind most commonly seen in parts of West Africa, although experts have yet to identify where monkeypox maintains itself in the wild.
Prolonged face-to-face contact is generally required for human-to-human spread of the disease since most experts believe large respiratory droplets to be the leading cause. However, it can also potentially spread through contact with body fluids, sores, items contaminated by those fluids or sores, or contact with infected animals/animal products, the preparation of wild game, or animal-induced bites and scratches.
Generally, the disease occurs in Africa. Outside of this Texas case, six reported monkeypox cases have cropped up in travelers returning from Nigeria, although none in the United States.