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First probable case of monkeypox reported in R.I.

The patient, a man in his 30s in Providence County, is awaiting test results from the CDC that would confirm monkeypox, and the Health Department is monitoring his close contacts.

In Providence, a man in his 30s tested positive for an orthopoxvirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing to confirm for monkeypox. Above, health workers screened travelers for monkeypox symptoms in India.ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island has its first probable monkeypox case, state health officials said Thursday.

The patient is a man in his 30s who lives in Providence County, the state Department of Health said. He tested positive for an orthopoxvirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing to confirm for monkeypox.

State health officials said the case is thought to be related to travel to Massachusetts. He is hospitalized and in good condition.

“While monkeypox is certainly a concern, the risk to Rhode Islanders remains low — even with this finding. Monkeypox is a known — and remains an exceedingly uncommon — disease in the United States. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for monkeypox that can be given before or after exposure to help prevent infection,” interim state Health Director Dr. James McDonald said in an e-mailed statement. “RIDOH continues to engage in active case finding and we have been communicating the latest information with healthcare providers so that they have the information they need to help us ‘identify, isolate, and inform’.”

The Health Department, which didn’t release additional details about the patient, said it’s identifying and monitoring his close contacts.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s tracking multiple cases of monkeypox in countries where it typically doesn’t appear, including the United States.

CDC is asking health care providers to be on the lookout for patients who have a rash illness consistent with monkeypox.

According to CDC data, as of Wednesday there were 39 confirmed cases in the US so far. One case has been reported in Massachusetts as of Wednesday.

Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to, but milder than, smallpox, the CDC said. It begins with fever, headaches, muscle aches, and exhaustion, the agency said. Within one to three days of a fever emerging, the patient develops a rash, often on the face and then spreading elsewhere.


In Africa, the disease has been shown to kill as many as one in 10 people who contract it, the CDC said.

Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.