US investigates 82 cases of monkeypox virus
- By: Fred Charatan
Laboratory tests have confirmed an outbreak of monkeypox virus in the United States. Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is allied to smallpox but is less lethal. It occurs mostly in central and western Africa and is called monkeypox because it was first found in 1958 in laboratory monkeys.
Early in June at least 20 cases from three midwestern states were reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within two weeks 82 cases were under investigation in five states. No deaths have been reported.
The source of the current outbreak may be an exotic pet dealer in suburban Chicago who housed prairie dogs with a Gambian giant rat thought to be the primary source of infection. Prairie dogs are popular as exotic pets and sold mainly in the midwestern states.
Two of the cases reported in Wisconsin were Steve and Tammy Kautzer from Dorchester, who are