Dr Scott Gottlieb says growing cases of smallpox in monkeys indicate it has spread “quite widely”

The growing number of monkey pox cases in the US and Europe suggests the virus is already widespread in communities, but is unlikely to cause a major epidemic like Covid’s, a Pfizer board member and former commissioner told CNBC on Friday. FDA Dr Scott Gottlieb.

“Now that the community is spread, it can be difficult to completely violate it. “I do not think there is going to be a major epidemic because it is a virus that is difficult to spread,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner told Squawk Box.

Smallpox is a rare viral disease that begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, which eventually develop into a rash on the body and face. Monkey pox is transmitted through open contact with the wounds of an infected person who has a long incubation period of 21 days or more, according to Gottlieb. He said this means that many people can incubate the virus, as infected patients were probably not diagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Gottlieb’s remarks come two days after US health officials confirmed a case of the virus to a Massachusetts man who recently traveled to Canada. The New York Department of Health announced Thursday that it is investigating a possible case of a man being treated at NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue.

Monkey pox, which reappeared in Nigeria in 2017, has spread to many countries in recent weeks, leaving health officials trying to warn clinicians and the public about the virus.

Gottlieb added that there have been many cases of disconnection, indicating that the spread in the community is “quite large”. He said there could be much more infection than health workers have found, as it has such a long incubation period and doctors do not know how to look for it yet.

However, he said the US could only see a low level of spread that “just gets harder to stop”, as it could be difficult to implement public health measures such as mass vaccination using the Vaccinia vaccine.

He noted that the virus is endemic in some countries, with the Democratic Republic of Congo reporting between five and 10,000 cases a year.

“It’s a concern, not a widespread epidemic here at this point. “But this persistent low-level spread, cases occur here and there and break out,” Gottlieb said.

However, he stressed that the virus could still be dangerous. The mortality rate for the spread of the strain is from 1% to 4%, according to Gottlieb. He described it as a “disability” virus that can last for two to four months, causing fever and sores.

The CDC on Wednesday urged clinicians to identify patients with rash associated with monkey pox. People suspected of having the virus should be isolated in a negative pressure room – areas used to isolate patients – and staff should wear appropriate personal protective equipment around them, according to the service.

Revelation: Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC Partner and a member of the boards of Pfizer, Tempus startup Genetics, healthcare technology company Aetion and biotechnology company Illumina. He also serves as its co-chair Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ and Royal Caribbean‘s “Healthy Sail Panel.”

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