monkeypox: More than 700 monkeypox cases globally, 21 in US: CDC

WASHINGTON: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday it was aware of more than 700 worldwide cases of monkeypox, including 21 in the United States, and investigations now suggest it is spreading in the country.
Sixteen of the first 17 cases were among people who identify as having sex with men, according to a new CDC report, and 14 were thought to be related to travel.
All patients are recovering or have recovered, and there have been no fatalities.
“There have also been some cases in the United States that we know are related to known cases,” Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, told reporters during 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 their infection.”
Monkeypox is a rare disease related to but less serious than smallpox, causing skin rashes, fever, chills and aches, among other things.
Generally limited to West and Central Africa, cases have been reported in Europe since May and the number of affected countries has increased since then.
Canada also released new figures on Friday, with 77 confirmed cases — nearly all detected in the province of Quebec, where vaccines have been delivered.
While the new spread may be related to certain gay festivals in Europe, monkeypox is not thought to be a sexually transmitted disease, with close skin-to-skin contact with someone with monkeypox ulcers being the main risk factor.
A person is contagious until all the sores have flaked off and new skin has formed.
Raj Panjabi, senior director of the White House’s global division for health security and biodefense, added that 1,200 vaccines and 100 treatment courses had been delivered to US states, where they were offered to close contacts with the infected.
There are currently two approved vaccines: ACAM2000 and JYNNEOS, which were originally developed against smallpox.
Although smallpox has been eradicated, the United States keeps the vaccines in a strategic national reserve in case it is used as a biological weapon.
JYNNEOS is the more modern of the two vaccines, with fewer side effects.
“We still have more than enough vaccine available,” Dawn 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 available, but O’Connell said on Friday the numbers had shifted, though it could not release precise numbers for strategic reasons.
The CDC has also approved two antivirals used to treat smallpox, TPOXX and Cidofovir, which will again be used to treat monkeypox.
“Anyone can get monkey pox, and we monitor carefully for monkey pox that can spread in any population, including those who don’t identify as men having sex with men,” McQuiston said.
That said, the CDC is undertaking special outreach in the LGBT community, she added.
A suspected case “should be anyone with a new characteristic rash,” or anyone who meets the criteria for high suspicion, such as relevant travel, close contact, or being a man who has sex with men.

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