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CDC monitoring 6 people in US for possible rare monkey pox, says public ‘shouldn’t worry’ | CNN

CDC monitoring 6 people in US for possible rare monkey pox, says public 'shouldn't worry' |  CNN
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CNN

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are closely tracking recent clusters of monkeypox infections around the world — and possible cases in the United States.

Currently, the CDC is monitoring six people in the US for possible monkeypox infections after they sat next to an infected traveler who showed symptoms on a flight from Nigeria to the UK in early May.

Separately, CDC officials are also investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in a Massachusetts man who had recently traveled to Canada. And the New York City Health Department is investigating a possible infection in a patient currently at Bellevue Hospital.

“The Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory will perform preliminary tests which, if positive, will be sent to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing,” the ministry said in a press release Thursday.

Meanwhile, recent monkeypox infections have been identified in several other parts of the world where the virus is not generally common, including Canada, Britain, Italy, Northern Ireland and Spain.

“We have a level of scientific concern about what we are seeing because this is a very unusual situation. Monkeypox is normally only reported in West or Central Africa, and we don’t see it in the United States or Europe – and the number of reported cases is definitely outside the normal level for what we would see “, Jennifer McQuistondeputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CNN told Thursday.

“At the same time, there really aren’t a lot of cases that are being reported – I think maybe a dozen, a few dozen – so the general public shouldn’t be worried that they’re at immediate risk. monkeypox,” she said. . “We are working on the investigations.”

Overall, “we have people who are being continuously monitored for disease,” CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson wrote in an email Thursday. This means that if someone may have been exposed to a pathogen, their health is being monitored and they should see a doctor if they develop symptoms.

As for the six people currently being monitored for possible monkeypox, they “are all in good health, have no symptoms and are considered at low risk for monkeypox,” Pearson wrote, adding that none were seated. next to the sick passenger and that neither had had direct contact.

As the CDC investigation continues, discussions have begun to include the topic of vaccines.

CDC officials are evaluating whether the smallpox vaccine should be offered to healthcare workers treating monkeypox patients and others who may be at “high risk” of monkeypox exposure, McQuiston said.

“It’s definitely something we’re discussing and evaluating, if offering the smallpox vaccine makes sense in the current context,” she said. “We will be closer to making recommendations on this in the coming days.”

The variola virus which causes smallpox and the monkeypox virus are somewhat related as they are both members of the genus Orthopoxvirus, belonging to the scientific family of “pox” viruses. Therefore, some of the same vaccines given to prevent smallpox have also been shown to prevent monkeypox. Although the viruses are related, monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.

“We have vaccines that are in stock and available for use, and if they’re deemed a way to help manage this outbreak, we have the availability to use them,” McQuiston said.

“I would say that we are in the early days of understanding what is causing this outbreak – and the fact that we are seeing cases reported in several places around the world suggests that it may have been going on for a few weeks,” she said. . mentioned. “As we work to complete our investigations and get to grips with them, hopefully we’ll have much stronger recommendations for people.”

Monkeypox, a viral illness, is rare in the United States and the virus does not occur naturally in the country, According to the CDC. But cases have been identified that were associated with international travel or the importation of animals from areas where the disease is more common. Once the virus has passed from an animal to a human, human-to-human transmission of monkeypox can occur when a person encounters the virus through direct contact with: large respiratory droplets, bodily fluids, or skin lesions .

Monkeypox symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. A feature of the disease is that it can cause lesions and a rash on the bodyincluding the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

“It’s not a disease that’s going to sweep the entire country,” Dr. Daniel Bausch, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, told CNN on Thursday.

“From a public health point of view, of course, we have to investigate and react – I think the general population should just be aware of this – but there is certainly no reason to panic and I think it is very , very, very unlikely that we’re going to get any kind of big outbreak out of this,” he said. “What if you haven’t had a contact in Massachusetts and you’re not related to the person who had the disease or in that connection at all – until we have another reason to wait or figure out how this disease got into the United States – your risk of getting monkeypox is really low.

In Massachusetts, doctors wearing the same personal protective equipment they wear for Covid-19 patients treated the US patient with monkeypox in a special pathogens unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was originally diagnosed.

“They were undergoing a symptom-related work-up and the infectious disease doctor seeing the patient, learning of some of the cases in the UK, decided the patient might possibly have monkeypox,” said Dr Erica Shenoy, medical director of the Regional Emerging Center for Special Treatment of Pathogens and associate chief of the infection control unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, CNN told Thursday.

“Then we had discussions with public health officials in our state. The decision was made that yes, they met the testing criteria,” Shenoy said. The patient tested positive.

“I think for the public as a whole, there’s really no clear risk at this point,” Shenoy said. “This is an evolving situation that we seek to better understand – why these clusters which have also been reported in the UK, Portugal and Spain are occurring, and to better understand the epidemiology.”

Both in the UK and in Canada, health authorities have noted that many cases of monkeypox have been identified in men who have sex with men – but the virus is not usually described as a sexually transmitted infection and investigations of these recent cases are continuing.

monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease were seen in colonies of monkeys that were kept for research, leading to the name “monkeypox,” according to the CDC. The first human case of monkeypox was reported years later in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at a time when intense efforts were underway to eliminate smallpox.

In the United States, the latest monkeypox outbreak was recorded in 2003, when 47 confirmed and probable cases were reported in six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. “No case of monkeypox infection has been attributed exclusively to person-to-person contact,” according to the CDC.

All of the people infected with monkeypox during this outbreak fell ill after coming into contact with prairie dogs, the CDC found. These pets were housed at a pet dealer’s facility in Illinois where they may have been infected with the virus. The facilities housed other small mammals imported from Ghana that had tested positive for the monkeypox virus: two African giant rats, nine dormice and three rope squirrels.

“Prairie dogs picked up monkeypox from imported animals and then passed it on to humans,” Bausch said. “It’s a bit of a misnomer to call it monkeypox. The reservoir of this virus, the natural reservoir in nature, is probably certain types of rodents. »

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday that people shouldn’t be worried about monkeypox at this stage, but they should be aware of the symptoms and know when to seek help.

Murthy explained on CNN’s New Day program that monkeypox is rare in humans, “but when it does occur, it’s a serious matter that we need to investigate, and we need to make sure we understand if and how it spreads from person to person.”

Symptoms are usually flu-like, he told CNN’s John Berman and Erica Hill.

“The good news is that we have one confirmed case right now. But we should always be on the lookout for more cases,” he said. “At the moment, we don’t want people to worry. At this point, again, these numbers are still low – we want them to be aware of these symptoms and if they have any concerns they should contact their doctor.

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