CDC watches 6 in US for possible rare monkey pox, says public “should not worry”

The CDC is currently monitoring six people in the United States for possible monkeypox infections after sitting next to an infected traveler who had symptoms during a flight from Nigeria to the UK in early May.

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

Meanwhile, recent monkeypox infections have been detected in many other areas around the world where the virus is not common, including Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Northern Ireland and Spain.

“We have a level of scientific concern about what we are seeing because it is a very unusual situation. Monkey pox is usually only reported in West Africa or Central Africa and we do not see it in the United States or Europe – and the number of cases “It’s definitely out of the ordinary for what we’re going to see,” said Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Pathogens and High-Impact Pathogens Department at the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

“At the same time, there are not really many cases reported – I think maybe a dozen, a dozen – so the general public should not worry that there is an immediate risk of smallpox.” he said. “We are working on research.”

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

As for the six people currently being monitored for possible monkey pox, they are all “healthy, asymptomatic and considered at low risk for monkey pox,” Pearson wrote, adding that no one was sitting next to the sick passenger and no one was in direct contact. contact.

As the CDC investigation continues, discussions began to include the issue of vaccines.

CDC smallpox vaccine “discussion and evaluation”

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

“It is definitely something we are discussing and evaluating, whether offering a smallpox vaccine makes sense in the current environment,” he said. “We will be closer to making recommendations on this the next day or so.”

The varicella virus that causes smallpox and the smallpox virus in monkeys are somewhat related as they are both members of the genus Orthopoxvirus, which belong to the scientific family of “smallpox” viruses. Therefore, some of the same vaccines given to prevent smallpox have also been shown to prevent monkeypox. Although viruses are associated, smallpox in monkeys is less contagious than smallpox and causes less serious illness.

“We have vaccines that are stored and available for use, and if they are seen as a way to help manage this epidemic, we have the availability to use them,” McQuiston said.

“I would say we are in the early days of understanding what is causing this outbreak – and the fact that we are seeing cases reported in many places around the world suggests that it may continue for a few weeks.” he said. “As we work to complete our research and take it into our own hands, we hope to have much stronger recommendations for people.”

Monkey pox, a viral disease, is rare in the United States and the virus does not occur naturally in the country, according to the CDC. However, cases have been identified that were related to international travel or the importation of animals from areas where the disease is more common. Once the virus is transmitted from an animal to a human, smallpox can be transmitted from person to person when a person encounters the virus through direct contact with: large respiratory droplets, body fluids or skin lesions.
Symptoms of smallpox in monkeys can include fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. Characteristic of the disease is that it can cause damage and rash to the body, including the palms of the hands and feet.

“This is not a disease that will sweep across the country,” Dr. Daniel Baus, president of the American Society for Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, told CNN on Thursday.

“From a public health point of view, of course, we need to investigate and respond – I think the general population should just be aware of this – but there is certainly no reason to panic and I think it is extremely, very, very unlikely that it will happen. “every kind of great epidemic,” he said. “And if you have had no contact in Massachusetts and have nothing to do with the person who had the disease or this link – until we have any other reason to wait or understand how the disease reached the United States – the risk of smallpox is very low. “

A mystery of monkey pox

In Massachusetts, doctors Wearing the same personal protective equipment they wear for Covid-19 patients, they treat the smallpox patient in the United States in a special pathogen unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was originally diagnosed.

“There was an examination of the symptoms and the infectious disease doctor who saw the patient, learning about some of the cases in the UK, decided that the patient could possibly have monkey pox,” said Dr Erica Shenoy, medical director for Regional Emerging The Center for Specific Therapy Pathogens and associate head of the infection control unit at Massachusetts General Hospital told CNN on Thursday.

“Then we had discussions with our state public health officials. It was decided that yes, they did meet the criteria for the tests,” Shenoy said. The patient tested positive.

“I do not think there is a really clear danger to the public at this point,” Shenoy said. “This is an evolving situation that we are trying to better understand – why are these clusters that have also been reported in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain, and to better understand epidemiology.”

In both the United Kingdom and Canada, health authorities have reported that many of the monkey pox cases have been found in men who have had sex with men – but the virus is not usually described as a sexually transmitted infection and research into these recent cases continue.
Monkey pox was first discovered in 1958, when two cases of smallpox-like disease appeared in monkey colonies held for research, leading to the name “monkeys”, according to the CDC. The first case of smallpox was reported years later in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at a time when intense efforts were being made to eradicate smallpox.
In the United States, the last monkey pox outbreak recorded was in 2003, when 47 confirmed and possible outbreaks were reported in six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. “No case of monkey pox has been attributed solely to person-to-person contact,” according to the CDC.

All people infected with appendicitis during this epidemic became ill after contact with pet dogs, the CDC found. These pets were housed in animal sales facilities in Illinois, where they may have been infected with the virus. The facility housed other small mammals imported from Ghana that tested positive for the smallpox virus: two African giant rats, nine dormitories and three rope squirrels.

“The prairie dogs caught monkey pox from the imported animals and then transmitted it to humans,” Bausch said. “It’s a little wrong to call it appendicitis. The reservoir of this virus, the natural reservoir in nature, is probably some type of rodent.”

U.S. General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday that people should not worry about monkey pox at this point, but that they should be aware of the symptoms and when to seek help.

Murthy explained to CNN New Day that monkey pox is rare in humans, “but when it does occur, it’s serious that we need to investigate and make sure we understand if and how it is transmitted from person to person. face.”

The symptoms are generally similar to the flu, he told CNN’s John Berman and Erica Hill.

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

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