Another 16 monkeypox cases were spotted across the United States this weekend, bringing the total number of cases of the rare disease to 65.
Health officials revealed the updated tally Tuesday, covering the period from Friday evening up to 2 p.m. Monday.
Infections were reported in six states, with the most in national hotspot California – which saw its tally rise by five to 15 patients.
Over the last three days Ohio also detected its first case of monkeypox, although no details were given to protect the patient’s privacy.
Chicago’s case count doubled to eight patients, with at least one case in Illinois’ largest city linked to annual fetish conference Mr Leather that took place last month.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are scrambling to contain the outbreak before the tropical disease gains a foothold in the U.S.
But Monday a scientist warned there may already be ‘undetected transmission chains’ in Massachusetts after the state spotted two cases that were not linked to another known infection.
Globally, more than 1,600 cases have been detected across more than four dozen countries outside of its native West Africa — with most in the UK (470), Spain (307) and Portugal (209).
Monkeypox may be transmitted through SEMEN, scientists say
Monkeypox could be spread through semen, scientists say.
Medical literature says the disease is transmitted primarily through touching infectious skin lesions on patients.
In limited cases it may also be passed on through the air if someone has ‘sustained’ face-to-face contact with an infected person.
But now scientists in Italy say they have detected fragments of the virus in the semen of a handful of patients, suggesting it could also be transmitted through this route.
Researchers at the Spallanzani Institute, in Rome, said six out of seven patients they checked had semen containing genes from the virus.
In one sample there was enough virus to suggest it could infect another patient.
Dr Francesco Vaia, its director general, said: ‘Having an infectious virus in semen is a factor that tips the balance strongly in favor of the hypothesis that sexual transmission is one of the ways in which this virus is transmitted.’
Today’s cases update is the biggest surge for a three-day period so far, up 160 percent from the six registered the weekend before.
Hawaii also reported another two cases after officials there warned the rash-causing virus was likely spreading ‘in our community’.
There was one case in Colorado, Georgia and Ohio each.
Health officials in Ohio refused to give any details about their first case in order to ‘protect the patient’s privacy’.
Most cases in America are being detected among gay and bisexual men and linked to international travel.
But a growing number are being spotted in people who had close contact with a known patient, or those who are not close contacts and have not recently traveled.
The CDC has so far brushed off concerns about these cases, however, saying they are likely linked to an undiagnosed case in a traveler.
It also says America is yet to detect any major outbreaks in urban centers unlike nations struggling against the disease in Europe.
Yesterday Dr Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, warned monkeypox was likely already spreading under the radar in Massachusetts.
He told DailyMail.com that the state’s latest cases ‘certainly indicate undetected transmission chains, although at this stage we can’t say whether they are linked to the previous case in Massachusetts or are a separate introduction’.
He added: ‘I noticed that [Health officials in the state] have urged “vigilance”. I think it is extremely appropriate.
‘People should be aware of the symptoms — fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash — but also remember that the rash might not look like the photos in the papers which tend to be of people suffering from a different strain of the virus, with an extensive disseminated rash.’
On Sunday the state reported two cases in men that were close contacts of each other but not linked to its first patient reported about a month ago.
Health officials also did not say whether the patients — who were from the Boston area — had recently returned from international travel.
In Rhode Island, health officials said their first case — a man in his 30s — was ‘believed to be related to travel to Massachusetts’. It is not clear whether he was linked to these latest cases, the first patient or another as yet unidentified transmission chain.