What Happened the Last Time There Was a Monkeypox Outbreak in the U.S.

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No monkeys were involved.

And the U.S. has faced monkeypox before, most notably in July 2003, when 47 individuals from six Midwestern states—Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin—were confirmed to have or suspected of having the West African strain of the monkeypox virus . The outbreak began in Illinois, where an exotic animal vendor received a shipment of Gambian pouched rats and briefly housed them next to a prairie dog enclosure.

,” and while one of their prairie dogs eventually succumbed to the illness, they were happy to keep the second after he recovered.During the outbreak, the smallpox vaccine was used both to prevent further transmission and to help infected individuals fight off the monkeypox.

, as a result of the eradication of the virus within the U.S. Older individuals who had been vaccinated against smallpox would have had some natural immunity to monkeypox because of the similarities between the two viruses.The difference between the 2003 outbreak and the recent one is the ways in which the virus can be transmitted.


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