Cases of monkeypox in the United States have more than doubled to 20 in the past week, according to the CDC

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Cases of monkeypox in the United States have more than doubled to 20 in the past week, according to the CDC

The US has identified 20 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox in 11 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as health officials step up testing to isolate patients and prevent the virus from spreading in communities.

CDC officer Dr. Jennifer McQuiston said the overall health risk to the public is low at this time. Most US patients had a history of international travel and are likely to have contracted the virus abroad, but the virus could spread domestically, McQuiston said.

“There could be a community level transmission going on and that’s why we really want to step up our surveillance efforts,” McQuiston told reporters during a call Friday. “We really want to encourage doctors that if they see a rash and are concerned it might be monkeypox, they go ahead and test for it,” she said.

However, there seems to be an increased risk for gay and bisexual men at the moment. Of the 17 patients who provided detailed demographic information to the CDC, 16 self-identified as men who had sex with men, McQuiston said. Anyone can contract monkeypox through close physical contact, and the CDC closely monitors all groups in the US for cases. But health officials are working to raise awareness in the LGBTQ community, McQuiston said.

“Our priority is to help everyone make informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community,” she said.

No monkeypox deaths have been reported during the current outbreak in the United States or Europe, McQuiston said. All of the patients are either recovering or have already recovered, she said. The West African strain of monkeypox is behind the current outbreak, which the CDC says is less severe than the other strain known as the Congo Basin.

According to the CDC, 14 of the 17 patients who provided demographic data had international travel to 11 different countries in the 21 days prior to the onset of symptoms. The other three patients either had contact with infected people, McQuiston said.

The current outbreaks of monkeypox are unusual, occurring in countries in North America and Europe where the virus is not normally found. Monkeypox infections usually occur in remote areas of west and central Africa, where the virus often spreads from rodents to humans.

The World Health Organization has identified more than 550 monkeypox infections in 30 countries, with most cases reported in Europe. The sudden emergence of monkeypox cases in several countries suggests the virus has been spreading undetected outside of west and central Africa for some time, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

Some cases of monkeypox in the US may have gone undetected, McQuiston said, but the CDC doesn’t believe the virus is widespread domestically.

dr Raj Panjabi, who heads the White House office for pandemic preparedness, said the US is stepping up testing and contact tracing to curb the spread of the virus. Laboratories have so far performed 120 tests for orthopoxviruses, which include monkeypox, Panjabi said. The US has the capacity to do 1,000 tests a day at 67 labs in 46 states if needed, he said.

The Biden administration has also distributed 1,200 vaccine doses for people who were at high risk and 100 oral antiviral treatment courses for infected people, Panjabi said. The US has two vaccines, Jynneos and ACAM200, and an antiviral called Tecovirimat in national stockpiles.

Jynneos is an FDA-approved two-dose vaccine for the prevention of monkeypox and smallpox. ACAM2000 is a single-dose, older-generation vaccine that is approved for the prevention of smallpox but may also be used against monkeypox under a CDC program. However, ACAM2000 can have serious side effects.

The CDC has directed people with confirmed or suspected monkeypox infection to isolate at home until local or state health officials say otherwise. People with confirmed infections should remain isolated until the skin lesions characteristic of the disease have completely cleared, the scab has fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed.

Monkeypox typically begins with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Then lesions form on the body and the virus spreads mainly through skin contact with these lesions. In eight cases in the US, the rash developed first on the genitals or around the anus. Monkeypox can spread through respiratory droplets if a person has lesions in the throat or mouth, but it’s not easily transmitted that way.

“The rash caused by the monkeypox virus can spread widely across the body or appear in sensitive areas like the genitals. It can be very painful, and some patients have reported needing prescription pain medication to relieve that pain,” McQuiston said.

People exposed to monkeypox should watch for symptoms for 21 days, according to the CDC. You should take her temperature twice a day and watch for chills, swollen lymph nodes, and new rashes. If a fever or rash develops, the person should self-isolate and contact the local health department immediately.

This is breaking news. Please check again for updates.

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