Monkey Pox: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the outbreak needs to be taken more seriously as the virus continues to spread

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 Monkey Pox: Dr.  Anthony Fauci says the outbreak needs to be taken more seriously as the virus continues to spread

“It’s something we definitely need to take seriously. We don’t yet know the scope and potential, but we have to pretend that it will have the ability to spread much further than it is currently spreading,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Saturday.

Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that it may be too late to control and contain the virus.

“I think the window to taking control of it and containing it has probably closed. If it hasn’t closed, it’s certainly starting to close,” Gottlieb told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation on Sunday.

Monkeypox has been recorded in most parts of the US except for a handful of states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The states with the most cases include New York, California, Illinois and Florida.

The latest data shows that as of Friday, the CDC was tracking at least 1,814 probable or confirmed cases in the United States and a total of 12,556 confirmed cases in 68 countries.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and senior medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN’s Laura Coates that the numbers were “very likely an undercount.”

“Whenever something like this comes up, you’re probably always looking at what – maybe, we don’t know – could be the tip of the iceberg, so that’s why we need to get that out there testing much, much more vigorously,” said Fauci.

Gottlieb reiterated the need for testing.

“We probably only discover a fraction of actual cases because we’ve long had a very narrow case definition of who was tested and broadly we’re looking in the community of men who have sex with men and in STD clinics. So we’re looking there, we’re finding cases there, but the fact is there are cases outside of this community right now. We don’t pick them up because we don’t look there.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that eight cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in people who were female at birth and that no cases have been reported in children or adolescents.

Gottlieb told Brennan that he believes monkeypox “has become more widespread in the community” and that he wouldn’t be surprised if there were “thousands of cases right now.”

“Now this is firmly embedded in the community. And while it won’t explode because it’s harder for this virus to spread, it likely will be persistent. They’re going to have that as a kind of fact of life, maybe like spreading an STD, but also breaking out of those attitudes,” he said.

Demand for monkeypox vaccine increases as cases increase, but supply remains low

The former FDA commissioner compared the response to the monkeypox virus to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and said the US is making “many of the same mistakes” as the community.

“We could have gotten that under control if we had been more aggressive up front,” said Gottlieb.

The CDC is working with five commercial labs to expand testing capacity, increasing capacity from an initial 6,000 to 80,000 samples per week.

Gottlieb also criticized the CDC for its response to the virus.

“The White House has intervened to take CDC more control of the response. That can’t be our response every time that if CDC drops the ball, the White House and political leadership have to step in,” Gottlieb said. “It happened here. It happened in Covid. We need to fundamentally reform how we respond to these crises.”

Gottlieb’s interview was “misinformed and incorrect,” the CDC said Monday.

What is monkeypox and how can you protect yourself from spreading it?

“It is true that we are very busy – here and internationally – and will likely see more cases of monkeypox in the near future, but it is possible to significantly reduce the number of cases and contain the current monkeypox outbreak through education and containment, increased testing and.” Access to vaccines – all priorities on which we have made dramatic progress,” the agency said in a statement.

The CDC said it has expanded the case definition of monkeypox to encourage health care providers to test for the virus and increased communication about the outbreak. Federal health officials have also “dramatically increased vaccine availability, with more than 130,000 doses already shipped and thousands more on the way.”

“We continue to educate the public, partners and community on how to protect themselves through daily outreach on our website, media briefings and partner calls” involving “90+ partner organizations including state, tribal, local or territory partners , public health organizations, clinical, community, LGBTQ+ organizations that refer to their members,” the CDC said.

Monkeypox is a smallpox virus related to smallpox and cowpox. The virus generally causes pimple- or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms like fever, the CDC said.

The lesions are usually concentrated on the arms and legs, but in the recent outbreak they are more common in the genital and perianal areas, raising some concerns that monkeypox lesions could be confused with sexually transmitted diseases.

The virus spreads through close contact, including direct physical contact with lesions, as well as “respiratory secretions” exchanged through face-to-face interaction. Touching objects contaminated with monkeypox lesions or fluids can also endanger the spread.

And while monkeypox isn’t an STD, it’s spread primarily among men who have sex with men.

Fauci said Saturday that he expects up to 700,000 vaccines to be distributed to communities by the end of July.

“Because you want to protect the people who are at risk, not just the people who may have had exposure that they know about, but also people who need to get vaccinated because they are in a risk situation,” he noted .

The US has more than tripled its monkeypox vaccine doses since last week, according to HHS. But supplies remain short of what’s needed to contain the spread.

CNN’s Virginia Langmaid and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.

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