Local

6 new monkeypox cases discovered in Mass., bringing total to 13

No one in the U.S. or globally has died from the current monkeypox outbreak.

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. The Associated Press

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday that six new cases of monkeypox were discovered in adult men last week, nearly doubling the total case count in the state. There are now 13 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts.

The first case of monkeypox was discovered in Massachusetts midway through May. The DPH is now updating the public with the current case count weekly on Thursdays.

Last week, there was only one new case, and the total case count was seven.

The DPH said it is working with local health officials, the patients, and healthcare providers to identify people who may have had contact with infected patients.

Local

All six men are currently isolating to prevent spreading the disease to others, the DPH said.

Advertisement:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a total of 156 cases of monkeypox among U.S. residents this year. There have been no deaths in the U.S. or globally related to this outbreak, and patients generally recover fully in two to four weeks, the DPH said.

Still, the World Health Organization is considering declaring the current outbreak of monkeypox a global health emergency.

Although many of the early cases were associated with international travel, recent cases are not, the DPH said. Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large swath of the cases identified to date.

However, the risk is not limited to the LGBTQ+ community, and anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk, the DPH said. While the virus does not spread easily between people, people can spread the infection once they develop symptoms.

Transmission happens through direct contact with body fluids and monkeypox sores, by touching items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores — such as clothing and bedding, or less commonly, through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact, the DPH said.

Monkeypox can spread through:

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions. Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing while a person is infected.
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone. Sharing towels or unwashed clothing.
  • Respiratory secretions through face-to-face interactions, mainly from living with or caring for someone who has monkeypox.

Monkeypox does not spread through:

  • Casual conversations.
  • Walking by someone with monkeypox in a grocery store.
  • Touching things like doorknobs.

The DPH is asking healthcare professionals to be aware of the possibility of a monkeypox infection in people who have rashes and illnesses consistent with monkeypox.

Advertisement:

Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes, but a rash may be the first symptom, the DPH said.

Rash lesions start flat, become raised, fill with clear fluid, and then become filled with pus, the DPH said. A person with monkeypox can have many lesions or may have only a few.

You can help stop the spread of monkeypox by:

  1. Avoiding large gatherings like raves and dance parties where you may have lots of close bodily contact with others.
  2. Asking any sexual partner, especially new partners whose health status and recent travel history you are not familiar with, if they have any symptoms of monkeypox.
  3. Staying informed by reading information available on the DPH and CDC websites.

If you believe you may have monkeypox, you should contact your healthcare provider. If you need to leave your home, wear a mask and cover your rash or lesions when around others.

Those who live with or care for someone who may have monkeypox should wear a mask and disposable gloves if they need to have any direct contact with a monkeypox rash, and when handling any clothes or bedding.

They should also wash their hands regularly, especially after contact with the person who is infected or with their clothes, bed sheets, towels, and other items or surfaces they may have touched.

Clinicians should consult with the DPH at 617-983-6800 to determine if a person should be tested for monkeypox.

For more information about monkeypox, visit www.mass.gov/monkeypox and www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com