The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently identified 21 monkeypox cases across 11 states. Officials have reported that they expect this number to rise. Genetic analysis has revealed that while most cases appear to be closely related to the recent outbreak in Europe, two patients – one in Virginia and the other in Florida – have been infected with versions of the virus that seem similar to the one that infected a person in Texas in 2021.
This suggests there has been a minimum of two separate incidents where the monkeypox virus spilled over from animals to human beings. Of 17 U.S. patients who were infected with the virus, only one was a homosexual, sexually active man. Fourteen individuals had visited other countries before their symptoms started, and three were immunocompromised.
Community transmission is a possibility, says CDC
CDC researchers have been unable to identify how one patient in an unnamed state acquired the infection. Dr. Jennifer McQuinston of the CDC told reporters this indicates that there is a potential community transmission in at least one state and possibly others as well. She added, “We want to really increase our surveillance efforts.”
Health officials have also identified about 400 contacts of 13 patients who are at risk of becoming infected with the virus. Identifying contacts who are at risk is expected to help officials determine what resources they need to contain the outbreak.
According to Dr. Raj Panjabi, the White House’s Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense, health officials have so far delivered nearly 1,200 vaccine doses as well as 100 treatment courses to about eight states.
Monkeypox toll rises sharply worldwide
This week, monkeypox’s toll rose across the world and is now nearing 800 cases. The virus has spread to around 31 countries outside of Africa, where it is right now endemic, and this has raised alarm bells among public health officials and scientists.
Britain has recorded the most number of cases so far and urged those infected to abstain from sex until their all of their symptoms have cleared and to use protective measures like condoms for at least eight weeks after that.
At present, due to the outbreak, health officials across the world are rushing to gather treatments and vaccines to protect infected people as well as their contacts. The U.S. is one of the few countries that have stockpiled millions of doses of drugs and vaccines for smallpox as a precautionary measure. Since monkeypox is not too different from smallpox, the drugs and vaccines are expected to be effective.