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Monkeypox Cases Rising Slowly in the U.S., CDC Says

FRIDAY, June 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Monkeypox cases continue to climb in the United States, although gradually, federal health officials said Friday.

Public health officials have identified 45 cases of monkeypox across 15 states and the District of Columbia, up from 21 the week before, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a media briefing, while more than 1,300 cases have been detected globally in 31 countries.

However, no deaths have been reported and no community transmission of monkeypox has yet been detected in any U.S. cities, CDC officials said.

The majority of cases, 75% or more, appear to have been contracted during international travel, officials said. Others have developed infection here through close contact with a known monkeypox case.

In the briefing, Walensky knocked down concerns that monkeypox could be transmitted through airborne particles, as COVID is.

"Monkeypox is not thought to linger in the air and is not typically transmitted during short periods of shared airspace," Walensky said. "The virus is not thought to spread through interactions such as having a casual conversation, passing in the grocery store or touching the same items, such as a doorknob."

But people can contract monkeypox through respiratory secretions during "close, sustained face-to-face contact," Walensky added.

However, the virus most often "spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or with direct contact with materials that have touched these bodily fluids and stores such as clothing or linen," Walensky said.

"Those diagnosed with monkeypox in this current outbreak described close, sustained physical contact with other people who were infected with the virus," Walensky said. "This is consistent with what we've seen in prior outbreaks and what we know from decades of studying this virus and closely related viruses."

The monkeypox virus involved in this global outbreak appears to be milder than other strains, which can cause a rash on multiple places across the body as well as flu-like symptoms, Walensky said.

"During the current outbreak, some patients have developed a localized rash, often around the genitals or anus, before they experience any flu-like symptoms at all," Walensky said.

"Some have not even developed such flu-like symptoms. Further, in many the rash doesn't always extend beyond its initial site, or it extends to only a few sites versus around most areas of the body," she said.

The rash can look like sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes or syphilis, Walensky warned. Doctors should test for the monkeypox virus in suspected STD cases.

The United States has enough smallpox vaccine to "vaccinate millions of Americans if needed" against monkeypox, said Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"This includes more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000 [smallpox vaccine] available for vaccination against monkeypox," O'Connell said during the briefing. "The USA now holds about 72,000 doses of Jynneos [smallpox/monkeypox vaccine] in its immediate inventory, and we will soon receive an additional 300,000 doses from the manufacturer Bavarian Nordic over the course of the next several weeks.

"The company is also holding over 1 million additional fully filled and finished doses owned by the U.S. government," O'Connell added.

"Further, in order to ensure we have enough vaccine for a variety of scenarios, today we announced an order of 500,000 liquid frozen Jynneos doses to be filled and finished from existing built vaccines," she said. "The additional doses will be delivered to us later this year."

The vaccines typically are provided to high-risk exposures, to prevent the person from contracting monkeypox.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about monkeypox.

SOURCES: June 10, 2022 media briefing with: Rochelle Walensky, MD, director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dawn O'Connell, JD, assistant secretary, preparedness and response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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