The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday it was aware of more than 700 cases of monkeypox virus in the world, including 21 in the United States, and investigations now indicate it is spreading within the country.
16 of the first 17 cases were among people identified as men who had sex with men, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, and 14 are believed to be travel-related.
All patients are in recovery or have recovered, and no cases have been fatal.
“There have also been some cases in the United States that we know are associated with known cases,” Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of pathogenesis and pathology, told reporters in a phone call.
“We also have at least one case in the United States that doesn’t have a travel link or know how they got infected.”
Monkeypox is a rare but less severe disease associated with smallpox that causes a rash, fever, chills, and aches, among other symptoms.
Generally limited to West and Central Africa, cases have been reported in Europe since May and the number of affected countries has been increasing since then.
Canada also released new numbers on Friday, counting 77 confirmed cases — nearly all of which were discovered in the province of Quebec, where the vaccines were delivered.
Although its new outbreak may be linked to gay festivals in Europe, monkeypox is not believed to be a sexually transmitted disease, with the main risk factor being close skin-to-skin contact with a person with monkeypox ulcers.
A person is contagious until all the sores have crusted over and new skin has formed.
More than enough vaccine
Raj Punjabi, Senior Director of the Global Health Security and Biodefense Department at the White House, added that 1,200 vaccines and 100 treatment courses were delivered to the US states, where they were shown to close contacts of the infected.
There are currently two approved vaccines: ACAM2000 and JYNNEOS, originally developed against smallpox.
Although smallpox has been eradicated, the United States keeps vaccines in a strategic national reserve in case they are deployed as a biological weapon.
JYNNEOS is the newer of the two vaccines, with fewer side effects.
“We are still providing more than enough vaccine,” Don O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters.
In late May, the CDC said it had 100 million doses of ACAM200 and 1,000 doses of JYNNEOS, but O’Connell said Friday that the numbers have changed, though she couldn’t reveal exact numbers for strategic reasons.
The CDC has also authorized two types of antivirals used to treat smallpox, TPOXX and cidofovir, for reuse to treat monkeypox.
“Anyone can get monkeypox, and we’re watching carefully for monkeypox that might spread to any group, including those not known to be MSM,” McQuiston said.
However, the CDC is doing outreach especially in the LGBT community, she added.
The suspected case must be “anyone with a new characteristic rash”, or someone who meets the criteria for high suspicion such as related travel, close contact, or being a MSM.
US prepares to deploy monkeypox vaccines amid more likely cases
© 2022 AFP
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