Maine has confirmed its first case of monkeypox.
This 2003 electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Credit: Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Russell Regner / CDC via AP

A York County man has been infected with Maine’s first case of monkeypox.

It’s the latest case of the rare disease to be confirmed in New England as infections have surged globally since the spring.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is working to identify any other people who may have been exposed to the virus.

“While this is the first case of monkeypox identified in Maine, Maine CDC has been preparing for a case for several weeks given the international outbreak,” Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah said Friday. “This disease is rare and the risk to the general public remains low. Maine CDC is working with the individual to identify close contacts and provide them access to vaccination.” 

The Maine CDC did not release any additional details about the individual, citing patient privacy.

Maine has received enough doses of the monkeypox vaccine Jynneos for 311 people. The vaccine will be made available to any close contacts.

The Maine CDC advised anyone who believes they have been exposed or have developed unexplained lesions to contact their doctor for evaluation, testing, and referral for vaccination.

Monkeypox is a rare disease in the same family of viruses that includes smallpox. The virus is transmitted by close contact with a symptomatic patient, including physical, skin-to-skin contact, such as sex, according to the Maine CDC.

Symptoms include rashes, sores and a flu-like illness. Monkeypox can be painful and disfiguring, with serious cases requiring hospitalization. But it is rarely fatal, according to the Maine CDC.

Mainers can protect themselves against infection by avoiding close contact with anyone who appears to have monkeypox-like rash; sharing food, utensils and cups used by an infected patient; handling bedding, towels and clothing used by someone who has been infected; and to wash their hands often with warm water and soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  

The virus has been present in New England since at least May 18, when the first case was confirmed in Massachusetts. The virus was confirmed to be in New Hampshire late last month.

So far, there have been 55 cases in Massachusetts, 16 in Connecticut, seven in Rhode Island and three in New Hampshire, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only Vermont has confirmed no infections.

Overall, the federal disease control agency reports there have been nearly 2,600 cases in the U.S. and more than 15,840 across 72 countries.

This latest outbreak has surprised disease control officials because monkeypox appears to be spreading among people who haven’t been to Africa, where infections are more common. In 2003, 47 people in six U.S. states caught the virus from pet prairie dogs housed near imported small mammals from Ghana, according to the Associated Press.