The monkeypox virus (photo credit: CDC/Cynthia S. Goldsmith)

A metro Atlanta man has a confirmed case of orthopoxvirus, according to a statement released by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) on Wednesday.  

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now testing to confirm if the disease is monkeypox, said DPH spokesperson Nancy Nydam. 

Monkeypox is one form of the orthopoxvirus. Others include variola, which causes smallpox.  

The Atlanta man has a history of international travel, Nydam said. 

Monkeypox is a viral disease that causes the skin to break out in pustules. It was first detected in laboratory monkeys and then discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the CDC.  

Monkeypox typically starts with a fever, lymph node swelling, muscle pains, and malaise, then progresses to a skin rash. The pustular rash can lasts two to four weeks, according to the World Health Organization.  

The disease is usually mild but can be life-threatening in some cases.  

The current outbreak is unusual because at least 257 confirmed cases have been identified in 23 countries where it is not typically found. The disease is considered endemic in certain central and western African areas.  

Nine American states have reported a total of 18 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases, according to the CDC.  

So far, the World Health Organization has reported 106 confirmed cases in Great Britain, 49 in Portugal, and 26 in Canada.

Monkeypox can be transmitted among people through direct contact with the sores or bodily fluids, intimate contact, and respiratory secretions during “prolonged, face-to-face contact,” according to the CDC.  

There are currently no monkeypox-specific treatments but medicines developed to treat smallpox can be helpful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine for monkeypox called JYNNEOS (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex), according to the CDC.  

“There doesn’t seem to be a need for any kind of extra efforts beyond what’s going on,” President Joe Biden said during a press conference last week.

“I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with COVID-19…but I think people should be careful,” he said.

The United States has enough vaccine stockpiled, Biden said.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.