SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Although monkeypox is not a new disease, it has made recent headlines as health officials reported a confirmed case in Massachusetts on May 18. As more cases of monkeypox are detected internationally, some scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks in Africa say they are baffled by the unusual disease’s spread in the West.

How concerned should Bay Area residents be about monkeypox?

One UCSF infectious diseases specialist said he isn’t concerned about the virus but is curious about how this virus has recirculated. The first human case was in Africa back in 1970.

“It’s a very different situation that hasn’t been seen with monkeypox virus before,” UCSF’s Dr. Peter-Chin Hong said Sunday morning in an interview with KRON4. “Meaning it’s simultaneously affecting people in multiple countries without having been exposed to the places where it comes from, which is central, east, and west Africa.”

Again, Chin-Hong says he is not concerned. He said the mortality rate of this current strain of monkeypox is less than 1%.

“I’m definitely not panicked about it, Chin-Hong said. “I’m just curious.”

Symptoms of monkeypox

According to Chin-Hong, some of the symptoms in the early stages of monkeypox infection are similar to COVID-19. They include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.

In one to two weeks, symptoms could worsen, which include a rash the infected person develops, Chin-Hong said. In addition, one can get a “fluid-filled blister.”

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand May 27, 2003. The CDC said the viral disease monkeypox, thought to be spread by prairie dogs, has been detected in the Americas for the first time with about 20 cases reported in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. (Photo Courtesy of CDC/Getty Images)

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.

The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.

Chin-Hong’s latest thoughts on COVID-19

“COVID isn’t going anywhere, away soon,” he said. “You have to think about ABCDs.”

A: Air — wear your mask. B: Booster shots C: Think about immunizing your kids D: Diagnostic tests to detect infection

The Associated Press contributed to this report.