US officials rush to buy 13 million doses of Monkeypox vaccines after first case of rare infection has been confirmed on US soil and a possible new case has been detected in New York.
The US government has placed a $119 million order with Bavarian Nordic for the Jynneos vaccine, which is effective against both Monkeypox virus and smallpox, the biotech company has revealed.
An additional $180 million is also ready and waiting to purchase even more vaccines if or when needed, enabling the country in total to put 13 million doses into the arms of the American people.
The move comes as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed it is investigating a possible case of Monkeypox in the Big Apple.
The patient, who has some symptoms of the virus, is being treated and placed in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in central Manhattan.
Health officials are currently awaiting test results to confirm the potential case.
If preliminary tests come back positive from the Department of Health’s public health laboratory, they will be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation, the agency said in a news release.
Contact tracing is already underway to trace anyone who may have come into close contact with the patient, as health officials desperately seek to avoid a repeat of the Covid-19 crisis that has crippled the health system in the city.
At the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, New York City quickly became the global epicenter of the virus, with 815 lives lost in a single deadliest day in April of this year.
Hospitals were on the verge of collapse as healthcare workers were overwhelmed with sick patients and bodies piled into refrigerated trucks across the city.
With Monkeypox less contagious than Covid-19 and an effective vaccine already available, the World Health Organization has started holding daily emergency meetings on the infection as cases continue to spread across worldwide.
In the US, the CDC is urging the public not to panic as the agency investigates at least six other possible cases of infection.
The six people are being monitored after sitting next to an infected traveler on a flight from Nigeria to the UK earlier this month, the CDC said.
None of the six people have symptoms of Monkeypox and are said to be in good health and at low risk of contracting Monkeypox.
The New York patient – who is showing symptoms – does not appear to be included in the six.
Jennifer McQuiston, CDC official, said CNN that “the general public shouldn’t be worried” about the sudden rise in infections of the rare disease.
“We have a level of scientific concern about what we’re seeing because it’s a very unusual situation,” she said.
“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 this that we would see.
“At the same time, there really aren’t many cases being reported – I think maybe a dozen, a few dozen – so the general public shouldn’t be concerned about the immediate risk of Monkeypox.”
It comes after a Massachusetts man became the first confirmed case on US soil this year.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the case of the man who had just returned from a trip to Canada where he had traveled by private transportation.
The patient is in good condition at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The state agency said there was “no risk to the public” and that it was working closely with the CDC and other health officials to identify anyone who may have been in contact with the patient while he was contagious.
Two cases of infection were reported in the United States last year, most recently in November when an American tested positive after returning to Maryland from a trip to Nigeria.
In July, another case was confirmed in Texas in a US citizen who had also traveled from Nigeria to the United States on two commercial flights.
In both of these cases, no additional cases have been detected in the United States after health officials conducted contact tracing and monitored individuals’ close contacts.
It was in 2003 when the first case of human Monkeypox was detected on American soil – and the first ever confirmed outside of Africa – when the nation witnessed an outbreak in six states.
A total of 47 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
All of the patients acquired the infection after coming into contact with prairie dogs that had been kept near small mammals imported from Ghana, according to the CDC.
The latest case in the United States comes as cases have emerged in several countries that do not normally report Monkeypox since early May.
Besides the United States, cases have also been detected in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.
It is not yet clear how individuals were exposed to the rare infection – which does not occur naturally in the United States or Europe.
The virus is originally thought to spread from animals to humans, before then spreading from human to human through close contact with an infected person.
Experts are now investigating possible spread through sex after recent confirmed cases include men who said they had sex with other men.
Symptoms are said to resemble those of smallpox and include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion.
After about one to three days of fever, the patient usually develops a rash on the face, before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Lesions on the body go through different stages before finally falling off.
The main difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes the lymph nodes to swell, according to the CDC.
In most cases, the symptoms are mild, but the virus has been fatal in about one in 10 cases in Africa.
Monkeypox was first detected in monkeys in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease were detected in research animals.
The very first human case of Monkeypox was recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970.
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