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New York City health department treating patient for presumptive positive monkeypox case, waiting on CDC confirmation

NYC Health Dept.: 1 "presumptive positive" case of monkeypox
NYC Health Dept.: 1 "presumptive positive" case of monkeypox 00:34

NEW YORK - The New York City Health Department is treating a potential case of monkeypox it's investigating as a presumptive positive.

The health department said Friday evening that specimens from two patients under investigation for possible monkeypox have been tested.

One case has been ruled out.

The other case has been identified as positive for Orthopoxvirus, which is the family of viruses monkeypox belongs to. The health department is treating this case as a presumptive positive until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts testing to confirm the results.

The patient is isolating, and the health department is carrying out contact tracing.

The city is sending out a warning to doctors to be on the lookout. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine tweeted Friday that the health department sent out instructions on testing, reporting and preventing spread.

The possible case comes on the heels of a confirmed case this week in Massachusetts

Monkeypox is a rare disease that health officials say starts with flu-like symptoms including swelling of the lymph nodes and causes a rash that can look like chicken pox.

"The rash is pretty much the hallmark," said Dr. Waleed Javaid, hospital epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown.

Javaid added, "People can have fevers a day or two before they develop the rash, and then, and then overall generalized malaise, body aches, weakness."

It's a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents, and in rare cases it can spread to people. 

"After going through two years of a pandemic not really looking forward to any new things to worry about. But this is the first I've heard of it actually," said Manhattan resident John Mucciolo. 

Experts say monkeypox can spread between people through physical contact, touching contaminated items like clothing or bedding, saliva and respiratory droplets.

Masks can protect against monkeypox.

"Usually the infections are transmitted from people to people, but by somebody that is sick and has an open wound and somebody comes in contact," pediatrician Dr. Juan Tapia, with Somos Community Care, told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

Tapia says it's much different than COVID-19.

"The good thing that the virus is not highly contagious. It does not cause severe illnesses in most people and the treatment is just supportive," he said.

It may be the first time hearing about monkeypox for many, because experts say it's rare in the U.S. and is normally found in Africa. 

"Most of the cases have been reported really out of West Africa or Central or Central Africa. The cases that have been outside of that area have been reported to be related to travel or to animals," said Dr. Erica Shenoy of Massachusetts General Hospital. 

The CDC says it's currently monitoring cases around the world including Britain, Portugal and Spain. Person to person transmission isn't common, but in England, scientists see evidence it's spreading through the community with cases that involve sexual contact. 

The World Health Organization says it is tracking 80 confirmed cases globally, with an additional 50 under investigation. It expects more cases to surface. The diseases has been reported from 11 countries that don't normally have it.

According to the WHO, monkeypox can be fatal for up to 1 in 10 people. Doctors say most patients recover in just a few weeks, and while the CDC says it's preparing for other potential cases, there's no reason to panic. 

"We should be more worried about the influenza, getting everyone to get the flu shot and those are not gotten the coronavirus shots," Tapia said.

Health officials say a man in Massachusetts is recovering and is in good condition after testing positive for monkeypox following a trip to Canada. Canadian health officials confirmed two cases there.

"It's unusual for the world to see this many cases reported in different countries outside of Africa," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

The disease comes from the same of viruses as smallpox. Most people recover within weeks, but the disease is fatal for up to one in 10 people, according to the World Health Organization. 

New Yorkers CBS2's Elijah Westbrook spoke to say they're not too concerned. 

"Just try to protect yourself and keep your distance and do whatever you're supposed to do," said Manhattan resident Kathleen Cadogan. 

"I think New York is going to do an amazing job because clearly, they've done a great job with COVID. I'm not worried at all," one person said. 

New Yorkers who believe they're experiencing monkeypox symptoms and do not have a primary care physician can call 844-NYC-4NYC.

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