CHICAGO – US health officials on Friday urged doctors to test monkeypox if they suspect cases, saying there may be community spread, but the overall risk to public health remains low.
So far, there have been 21 cases of the disease in at least 11 states. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials told reporters on a conference call that affected patients are being isolated to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was aware of 700 cases of monkeypox reported globally outside parts of Africa, where the disease is endemic. No deaths have been reported so far.
The agency is collaborating with global experts to learn more about how the outbreak began and how it is now spreading within the United States and elsewhere.
In a detailed report of 17 cases published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly Report of Disease and Mortality, most patients were identified as MSM. In many cases, the monkeypox rash began in the genital area, which may lead some doctors to diagnose it as a sexually transmitted infection such as herpes or syphilis.
Health officials believe community transmission is possible, which is why they want doctors to test patients if they have any reason to suspect monkeypox.
The CDC confirmed that monkeypox is transmitted by close contact with an infected person and to monkeypox sores.
“Anyone can get monkeypox and we are watching carefully for monkeypox, which may spread in any group, including those not identified as MSM,” Pathology, in the briefing.
To date, the United States has conducted 120 tests for monkeypox. Officials said the government has the capacity to run 1,000 tests a day.
Currently, all American patients are recovering or have already recovered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who still have the rash are being asked to stay home until they have fully recovered.
The patient is considered to have recovered when all the sores have crusted over, the crust has fallen off and healthy skin appears.
McQueston said analysis of the genetic sequences of US virus samples found that in most cases it resembled the variant circulating in Europe.
However, US scientists have identified two genetically different types of monkeypox virus among US samples. Both share common ancestry with breeds that have been in Nigeria since at least 2017.
It’s possible, McQuiston said, that some form of the virus is going under the radar in the United States, albeit on a very limited basis.
US officials have said the government has ample vaccines in its Strategic National Stockpile, and the government is providing those vaccines to people who have high-risk contact with infected individuals to prevent transmission of the virus.
The United States has so far provided about 1,200 vaccines and 100 treatment courses. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuisen and Susan Heffy; Editing by Bill Bercrot)