BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The first presumed case of monkeypox in the state has been found in an adult resident of the National Capital Region, the Maryland Department of Health said.

The person is recovering in isolation and has not been hospitalized, the agency said.

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“Although human monkeypox is a rare infection in the United States, this Maryland case and other cases in the region and country remind us that we need to be prepared and take steps to prevent infection and its spread,” said Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “MDH will continue to work with local and federal public health authorities and communicate responsibly with Maryland residents as we learn more.”

The CDC says the virus can spread from person to person via infectious sores, scabs or bodily fluids.

The virus is in the same family as Smallpox and although doctors say it’s generally less severe, the symptoms can still be extreme – like rashes and lesions all over the body, flu-like symptoms are also part of its trademark.

State officials advise residents to stay alert for symptoms, especially if they have traveled to central or west African countries or another country where cases have been confirmed, been in close contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or had close or intimate in-person contact with people in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity.

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Initially, doctors said this virus was prevalent among men who had sex with men, Dr. Esti Schabelman, Chief Medical Officer at Sinai Hospital, disagrees.

We want to be careful not to stigmatize this as a gay disease,” Dr. Schabelman said. “We made that mistake in the 80s with HIV, and that clearly spread far outside the gay population, and I think monkey pox probably has already spread outside of that small population as well.”

“It can also be spread through large respiratory droplets, which generally cannot travel more than a few feet, and prolonged face-to-face contact is required,” the Maryland Health Department said. “The World Health Organization is in the process of establishing a new name for the virus.”

Now, there’s a push to raise awareness about monkeypox before it infects even more.

“The more people know the less chance it’s going to have to spread, because people will avoid contact, people will seek care, and people will know what to look for,” Dr. Schabelman said.

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WHO is set to meet next week and discuss the ongoing monkeypox outbreak to determine if the virus should be classified as a threat to international health.

Annie Rose Ramos