The United States is facing at least two separate outbreaks offederal health officials said Friday, based on virus samples that have been genetically sequenced from some cases so far.
A CDC official said the sequenced cases of monkeypox, which now include patients in Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia and Utah, suggest that the majority of cases detected in the US are related to the variant that has been identified. been spreading in Europe. Those also appear similar to the virus detected in an infected traveler to Maryland from Nigeria last year.
However, at least two of the US cases do not appear to be closely related to the spread of the virus in Europe. Instead, they resemble a virus sample from a traveler to Texas last year.
“It’s not clear what this all means, but it’s likely that in the last two years there have been at least two different cases where the monkeypox virus spread to people in Nigeria, from the animal that keeps it,” he said. Jennifer McQuiston, chief of the CDC’s response to monkeypox, told reporters at a briefing on Friday.
“That virus probably started to spread through close person-to-person contact, possibly intimate orMcQuiston added.
The CDC finding comes as the national and global count of monkeypox cases has risen sharply in recent weeks, amid a push by health authorities to find and test potential cases of the sometimes painful rashes and lesions.
Most, but not all, cases have been in men who have sex with men with links to recent foreign travel. However, McQuiston said Friday that at least one case from the US “does not have a travel link or know how they acquired the infection.”
“There may have been other cases in travelers that were missed, but I don’t think monkeypox has been circulating widely within the United States,” he said.
So far, US health authorities have counted a total of at least 23 cases, including one case in a Florida resident who was tested in the UK. California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and the state of Washington have reported at least one case.
The CDC is also aware of more than 700 confirmed cases worldwide.
“In fact, I think the finding of these two cases with different lineages is actually a positive sign that our surveillance network that we’re working to ramp up, and make sure people with rashes get tested, is working.” McQuiston added.
No deaths have been reported in the US so far. Officials say they believe the risk to the general public is low, as the virus is usually spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact.
However, officials stressed that they did not want to minimize the threat of monkeypox to those who might contract or spread the disease.
“The rash caused by the monkeypox virus can spread widely over the body or occur in sensitive areas such as the genitals. It can be very painful and some patients have reported needing prescription pain medication to control that pain. The sores can also cause long-term scarring of the skin,” McQuiston said.
the CDC recently issued warnings for travelers to take precautions to avoid contracting monkeypox, including wearing a mask and avoiding contact with things like bushmeat and contaminated clothing.
McQuiston said the CDC is also considering launching a new health alert and other outreach activities for medical providers to raise awareness of the outbreak and help detect cases, including the possibility that patients may be co-infected with monkeypox and other diseases.
Of more than 400 close contacts of the US cases so far, authorities have identified at least 56 who are considered high-risk contacts.
That figure is from a report too published on friday in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which documents the response to the first 17 cases of monkeypox in the US.
While thein the current outbreak tested positive for monkeypox on May 18, the report reveals that the first US case detected in Massachusetts developed symptoms on May 4. They were later hospitalized on May 12 due to pain from the rash.
Subsequently, the vaccine was offered to some at-risk providers who came into contact with the hospitalized person, in hopes of avoiding possible infections.
“We want to make sure that people with high-risk exposures have quick access to vaccines, and if they get sick, they can get the right treatment,” Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior director of global health security and biodefense, told reporters. the White House. .
Panjabi said the Biden administration has rolled out some 1,200 doses of vaccines and 100 courses of treatment for contacts and patients at risk in the outbreak. Most have been from the recently approved Jynneos vaccine, produced by Bavarian Nordic, which severalof federal government reserves.
Officials said US stockpiles of Jynneos have increased, but declined to give a specific figure citing “national security.”
“We continue to have more than enough vaccine available. We have it pre-positioned at various sites across the country,” Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters.
O’Connell’s agency oversees the national stockpile of both Jynneos and the older ACAM2000 vaccines, which have also been requested by at least one state.
O’Connell said authorities had been cautious about shipping too many doses of Jynneos out of Bavarian Nordic’s cold storage, shortening the shelf life of the vaccines.
“We are working closely with Bavarian Nordic to make sure we are prepositioning the vaccine that we think we currently need,” O’Connell said.