New York City health officials are reporting a total of seven cases of monkeypox, a rare disease that has become a growing concern in the United States following an outbreak in Europe.
The Ministry of Health announcement Friday evening that they had identified two additional cases, which have yet to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Health officials said people who have recently traveled to Portugal, Spain, the UK, Canada or West and Central Africa may be more likely to have been exposed to monkeypox. They also cited men who have had sex with men as being at risk.
The alert from city health officials comes amid rising U.S. cases The CDC has found more than 20 cases so far in 11 states. Most involved men who had sex with other men. The disease is endemic in West and Central Africa, but an outbreak outside these areas of more than 700 cases, starting in May, has alarmed the public health community.
At a Friday briefing, CDC officials said they expect cases to rise.
“There could be community-level transmission happening, and that’s why we really want to increase our surveillance efforts,” said Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official, according to a Politico article.
Nonetheless, the CDC currently classifies the risk to Americans as low. As part of its public health response, the Biden administration has distributed 1,200 doses of vaccine in different states for people at high risk.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, and body aches followed by a telltale rash that includes lesions on the face or body, including the genitals.
The disease is related to smallpox, but less contagious. It is rarely fatal. Treatment may include an antiviral drug developed for smallpox, but most patients recover on their own.
Health officials are asking people with symptoms to self-isolate immediately and contact their health care provider.