This week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised the monkeypox alert to Level 2- Practice Enhanced Precautions following the 31st case reported in the United States and is now advising people to wear a mask when traveling.

“Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox,” the CDC said. The CDC also recommends avoiding contact with infected individuals.

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The CDC said that current cases of the virus have been discovered in 27 countries across Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia and that many of the cases outside of Africa have occurred in people who haven’t recently traveled to countries where it normally is found. They also said that cases have been reported among “men who have sex with men,” and others were “people who live in the same household as an infected person.”

As of Monday, the numbers in the US are as follows: six cases in California, seven in New York, four in Florida, three in Colorado, two in Utah, two in Illinois, and one each in Washington DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington State.

Dr. Amesh Adalja told NBC News that it’s possible Monkeypox was being spread much sooner but was mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease, as it often presents with the same symptoms. “What’s likely happened,” Dr. Adalja said, “is an endemic infectious disease from Africa found its way into a social and sexual network and then was greatly aided by major amplification events, like raves in Belgium, to disseminate around the world.”

Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, and muscle aches, followed by a rash or lesions. Apparently, two different strains of the virus have been found in the US since the first case was identified on May 18 from a traveler from Canada. The vast majority of the cases in the US apparently match the strain that has been found in European countries.

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Both strains identified stateside are less severe than the one found in countries where the virus is endemic, mainly in African countries. There have been no deaths reported from this most recent outbreak, although the CDC said that anywhere from 1-11% of cases can prove to be fatal.

The fact that there are two strains in the United States likely means that “there were multiple animal-to-human transfers of the virus.”

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According to the CDC, “Risk to the general public is low, but you should seek medical care immediately if you develop new, unexplained skin rash (lesions on any part of the body), with or without fever and chills, and avoid contact with others.”

The CDC also said that those who have been vaccinated against smallpox may have protection already from monkeypox.

As Red Voice Media previously reported, the CDC warned that men having sex with other men should be on alert for this disease more so than others. They also say it is not a sexually transmitted disease, although the primary transmission method is during sex or other close contact.

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