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City Hall on Nov. 3, 2020. Credit: Kylie Cooper

The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in Philadelphia on Thursday, June 2, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced.

According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare disease that was first contracted by humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The disease is usually found in Central and West Africa. Monkeypox is primarily spread between people through direct contact with body fluids, scabs, or infectious sores. 

In the United States, as of June 7, 2022, there have been 35 cases of monkeypox across 14 different states and the District of Columbia. 

The current global outbreak began when the disease was detected in a British citizen on May 6. As of June 7, 2022, the disease has been detected in 29 countries and numbers 1,088 cases worldwide. At 302 confirmed cases, the United Kingdom currently has the most cases of any country.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle ache, and chills. Infected individuals will then develop a rash within 1-3 days of developing a fever. Over the next weeks, the rash will develop from small, flat spots to small blisters and then to large blisters. The blisters will then scab over, which can take several weeks. Once the scabs fall off, the infected person is no longer contagious. 

“The threat to Philadelphians from monkeypox is extremely low,” Philadelphia Health Department Acute Communicable Disease Program Manager Dana Perella wrote in a press release on June 2, 2022. Perella also added that monkeypox is far less contagious than COVID-19 and can be contained when treatment is quickly sought.

“I believe that residents and visitors should feel safe to do all the fun things Philadelphia has to offer, with the proper precautions,” Perella wrote.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health recommends that anybody who is experiencing an unexplained rash on their face, palms, arms, legs, genitals, or perianal region contact their healthcare provider immediately.