Georgia health officials confirm a third case of monkeypox in the state

The state’s three cases appear to be unrelated

With increasing cases of monkeypox in the U.S. and across the globe, the Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed a third case of the infectious disease in the state.

A metro Atlanta man who recently traveled to Chicago for a conference has been confirmed to have the virus and is isolating. His case is not related to the two earlier Georgia cases, according to DPH, which is also doing contact tracing.

Newsweek has reported about a cluster of monkeypox cases arising from a recent conference in Chicago known as International Mr. Leather for fans of bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement: “Some of the current cases involve individuals who recently traveled to Europe. One Chicago resident reported attending the International Mr. Leather (IML) conference in Chicago.... Additionally, residents from another state who were diagnosed with monkeypox also reported attending the IML conference,” according to Newsweek.

Earlier this month, DPH announced the first-ever case in Georgia — a man who lives in metro Atlanta with a history of international travel. Earlier this week, Georgia’s state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek announced the second case of monkeypox at a Georgia Department of Public Health board meeting. All three of the state’s cases are unreleated, health officials say.

As of Friday, the CDC is tracking 100 confirmed cases of monkeypox or the related “orthopoxvirus” in the U.S. including Georgia’s cases. The states of California, New York and Illinois are reporting the largest numbers.

Worldwide, there are more than 1,600 cases in 39 countries, including several countries where the disease does not typically occur, such as Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Georgia Health officials have said they wouldn’t be surprised to see more cases here and in other states, but emphasized the overall risk to the general public is low, and nothing like the coronavirus.

“Really the epidemiology is pointing to close, person to person spread, not like COVID,” said Drenzek.

The World Health Organization will convene an emergency committee of experts to determine if the expanding monkeypox outbreak that has mysteriously spread outside parts of Africa should be considered a global health emergency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier the virus has shown “unusual” recent behavior by spreading in countries well beyond parts of Africa where it is endemic. A total of 72 deaths have been reported but none in the newly affected countries which include the U.S.

CDC officials said most of the cases have been among men who have sex with men, but anyone can become infected through close contact with a sick person, their clothing or bedsheets. The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, the eyes, nose, and mouth, according to the CDC.

Currently, there is no specific treatment approved for monkeypox virus infections. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial, according to the CDC. The federal government keeps a stockpile of vaccine that can be used to prevent an infection.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.