The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday that six new cases of monkeypox were discovered in adult males last week, nearly doubling the total number of cases in the state. There are now 13 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts.
The first case of monkeypox was discovered in Massachusetts in mid-May. The DPH now notifies the public of the current number of cases each week on Thursdays.
Last week there was only one new case and the total number of cases was seven.
The DPH said it was working with local health authorities, patients and healthcare providers to identify people who may have come into contact with infected patients.
The six men are currently in isolation to avoid spreading the disease to others, the DPH said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been a total of 156 cases of monkeypox among US residents this year. There have been no deaths in the United States or worldwide related to this outbreak, and patients generally recover fully in two to four weeks, the DPH said.
Yet the World Health Organization is considering declaring the current outbreak of monkeypox a global health emergency.
Although many of the earliest 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 represent a large proportion of the cases identified to date.
However, the risk is not limited to the LGBTQ+ community, and anyone who has had close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk, the DPH said. Although the virus does not spread easily between people, people can spread the infection once they develop symptoms.
Transmission occurs through direct contact with bodily fluids and monkeypox wounds, by touching objects that have been contaminated with fluids or wounds – such as clothing and bedding, or less commonly, through respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face contact, the DPH said.
Monkeypox can be spread by:
- Direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions. Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing while someone is infected.
- Live in a house and share a bed with someone. Sharing towels or unwashed clothes.
- Respiratory secretions during face-to-face interactions, primarily while living with or caring for someone with monkeypox.
Monkeypox is not transmitted by:
- Informal conversations.
- Walking next to a person with monkeypox in a grocery store.
- Touching things like doorknobs.
DPH asks healthcare professionals to be aware of the possibility of monkeypox infection in people with rashes and illnesses consistent with monkeypox.
Early symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, but a rash may be the first symptom, the DPH said.
The skin lesions start out flat, lift, fill with clear fluid, then fill with pus, the DPH said. A person with monkeypox may have many lesions or only a few.
You can help stop the spread of monkeypox by:
- Avoid large gatherings like raves and dance parties where you can have a lot of close body contact with others.
- Ask any sexual partners, especially new partners whose health status and recent travel history you don’t know, if they have symptoms of monkeypox.
- Stay informed by reading the information available on the DPH and CDC websites.
If you think you have monkeypox, you should contact your health care provider. If you must leave your home, wear a mask and cover your rash or lesions when around other people.
People who live with or care for someone who may have monkeypox should wear a mask and disposable gloves if they are going to have direct contact with a monkeypox rash and when handling clothing or bedding.
They should also wash their hands regularly, especially after contact with the infected person or with their clothes, sheets, towels and other objects or surfaces they may have touched.
Clinicians should consult the DPH at 617-983-6800 to determine if a person should be tested for monkeypox.
For more information on monkeypox, visit www.mass.gov/monkeypox and www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.
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