The CDC has identified nine cases of monkeypox in seven states as of Wednesday, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Thursday.
Cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York.
“This is a community that has the strength and has demonstrated the ability to address challenges in their health by focusing on compassion and science,” she said in an apparent reference to the AIDS epidemic.
“While some groups may currently have a greater likelihood of exposure, infectious diseases don’t care about state or international borders. They are not included in social networks and the risk of exposure is not limited to any particular group,” she warned.
Walensky implored Americans to “address this outbreak without stigma and without discrimination.”
“We shouldn’t be surprised to see more cases”
The CDC is working to learn more about the outbreak: Samples from the nine identified cases have been sent to the agency for additional confirmatory testing and genomic research, Walensky noted, and efforts are underway to find out how each person contracted the virus .
Some of the nine cases have recently traveled internationally to areas with active monkeypox outbreaks, she said, but others have not.
Officials expect more cases to be diagnosed as the CDC has urged doctors and Americans to be on the lookout for symptoms.
“We shouldn’t be surprised to see more cases being reported in the US in the coming days. This is indeed a sign that Americans are staying alert and that healthcare providers and public health workers are doing their jobs,” said Dr. Raj Panjabi. Senior White House Director for Health Security and Biodefense.
Monkeypox is rare in the United States, and the virus is not naturally occurring in the country, according to the CDC. After the virus jumps from an animal to a human, human-to-human transmission can occur through close direct contact, e.g. B. via large respiratory droplets or lesions on the skin.
The US plans to move the vaccine to states that need it most
“The US has the resources we need to help us respond to monkeypox in this country now. We’ve been preparing for this type of outbreak for decades,” she said.
The US has two preventive vaccines and two antiviral treatments that can be used for orthopox, the family of viruses that includes monkeypox.
“One of these vaccines, tradenamed Jynneos, is approved for the prevention of monkeypox disease in adults 18 years and older,” Walensky said. “CDC has mechanisms in place to ship these products across the country so they can be used to prevent or treat people who could benefit, wherever they are.”
“In Massachusetts, as of Sunday, they received it as the Jynneos vaccine, and we are offering it to healthcare providers who were at high risk or who are eligible under state and CDC guidelines,” Panjabi said.
CDC officials recommend vaccination for people at highest risk of infection due to direct contact with someone who has monkeypox.
“Right now, while we are in the early stages of the investigation, we know that those at highest risk of infection are those who have had contact with a known monkeypox patient, with the type of contact that would facilitate its spread. So those are the people we’re really focused on recommending one vaccination now: post-exposure vaccination,” said Jennifer McQuiston, MD, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Pathogens and Serious Consequence Pathology.
“We continue to monitor what is happening and consider whether more comprehensive vaccination recommendations would be useful, but at this point we only have nine known cases and we have contacts that we have identified who are linked to the cases they are likely to have died from vaccines would benefit most,” McQuiston said. “And that’s what we’re focusing our energies on right now.”