On Wednesday, the CDC identified nine cases of monkeypox in seven states, director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.
Cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York.
“This is a community that has strength and has demonstrated the ability to meet its health challenges with a focus on compassion and science,” she said in an apparent reference to the AIDS epidemic.
“While certain groups may have a greater chance of exposure at this time, infectious diseases do not care about national or international borders. They are not contained in social networks, and the risk of exposure is not not limited to any particular group,” she said. warned.
Walensky implored Americans “to approach this epidemic without stigma and 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 further confirmatory testing and genomic investigation, Walensky noted, and efforts are being made to find out how each person contracted the virus.
Some of the nine cases have recent histories of international travel to areas with active monkeypox outbreaks, she said, but others do 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 reported in the United States in the coming days. It’s actually a sign that Americans are staying vigilant, and that healthcare providers and public health workers are doing their work,” said Dr. Raj Panjabi, White House senior director for health security and biodefense.
Monkeypox is rare in the United States and the virus does not occur naturally in the country, according to the CDC. Once the virus has passed from an animal to a human, human-to-human transmission can occur through close direct contact, for example via large respiratory droplets or skin lesions.
US plans to move vaccine to states most in need
“The United States has the resources we need to help us fight monkeypox in this country right now. We’ve been preparing for this type of outbreak for decades,” she said.
The United States has two preventative vaccines and two antiviral treatments that can be used for orthopox, the family of viruses that includes monkeypox.
“One of these vaccines, with the trade name Jynneos, is approved for the prevention of monkeypox in adults 18 years of age and older,” Walensky said. “The CDC has mechanisms in place to move these products across the country so they can be used for prevention or treatment for people who may benefit, wherever they are.”
“In Massachusetts, they got it as the Jynneos vaccine starting Sunday, and we’re offering it to health care providers who have been at high risk or who are eligible under the guidelines of the state and the CDC,” Panjabi said.
CDC officials recommend vaccinating those most at risk of infection due to direct contact with someone with monkeypox.
“At this time, as we are in the first phase of the investigation, we know that those most at risk of infection are those who have been in contact with a known monkeypox patient, with the type of contact that would facilitate the spread. So those are the individuals we’re really focusing on recommending vaccination at the moment: post-exposure vaccination,” said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Conditions. from the CDC.
“We continue to monitor what is happening and consider whether broader vaccination recommendations would make sense, but at the moment we only have nine known cases, and we have contacts that we have identified associated with these cases that would likely benefit the most from vaccines,” McQuiston said. “And that’s where we’re focusing our energies right now.”