Passenger with human monkeypox traveled through Atlanta airport, CDC warns

ATLANTA — A U.S resident who had spent some time in Nigeria before heading home is the first reported case of monkeypox in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC says the traveler left Lagos, Nigeria on July 8, arriving in Atlanta on early on July 9. After a layover at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, the traveler continued on to Dallas later on the 9th. The traveler is currently in a Dallas hospital.

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CDC investigators have not released a description of the traveler and are working with airline, state and local health officials to contact passengers or others who might have come in contact with the patient during the trip.

Investigators say mask policies put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic likely limited other traveler’s exposure to the virus, which is also a respiratory virus.


The CDC says there have been at least six other reported cases of monkeypox in travelers returning from Nigeria. Those cases were in the United Kingdom, Israel and Singapore. They do not believe the U.S. case is related to any of those.

The U.K. case did spread to several other people who came in contact with an infected traveler.

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According to the CDC, monkeypox is a rare but potentially serious viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes. It also produces a widespread rash on the face and body and the infections generally last 2-4 weeks.

CDC experts say the infection is similar to smallpox but milder. They said lab testing showed the strain the U.S. traveler is infected with is a strain most commonly seen in West Africa, including Nigeria. The strain is fatal in roughly 1 in 100 people, but the risk of death increases for people with weakened immune systems.

Infections disease experts believe the virus comes from African rodents and small mammals, which spread it to other forest animals such as monkeys. They say people can get infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal or have contact with infected animal products.

The virus spreads between people via respiratory droplets and through contact with body fluids, open infected sores or items that have been contaminated by any of those routes. The CDC emphasized the primary path of human transmission comes through large respiratory droplets.

The CDC says there was an outbreak of the virus in the U.S. back in 2003 after the virus spread from imported African rodents to pet prairie dogs.

For more information about monkeypox, visit