Possible case of monkey pox found in district, officials say

The first infection with a family monkey pox virus has been reported in the district, city officials said.

The resident is isolating and “posing no risk to the public,” the DC Department of Health said.

The case of orthopox, the family of viruses that includes monkey pox, was reported Saturday by someone who said they had recently traveled to Europe, the department said.

The collected samples have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing and confirmation of the monkeypox virus, the health department said.

At a news conference Monday, Thomas Farley, senior deputy director of DC Health’s health administration, said the possible case of monkeypox in the district was not surprising.

“We know this is an outbreak occurring in Europe and the United States. With more attention to this, more people will be identified, so we expected that sooner or later we would have a case and we now have it.”

There are two other suspected cases that were tested in the DC Health Department’s lab, but those tests came back negative for orthopox, Farley said. The suspected case of monkey pox was the first to test positive at the local lab. Further confirmation of a monkeypox infection will be done by the CDC, likely within days, Farley said.

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Monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral disease that can be passed from person to person through direct contact with bodily fluids or monkeypox lesions. It is more difficult to transmit and easier to contain than viruses such as the coronavirus.

Monkeypox is rarely fatal, and because of its similarities to smallpox, it can be treated with antivirals and vaccines stored in the event of a smallpox outbreak. Vaccines can be administered shortly after exposure to prevent serious illness.

There are 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, the city’s health department said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how likely an orthopox infection would be monkeypox.