Anyone can get monkeypox, but CDC warns LGBTQ community of ‘higher chance’ of exposure now

“Certain groups may have a greater chance of exposure at this time, but the current risk of exposure to monkeypox is by no means exclusive to the gay and bisexual community in the United States,” said Dr John. Brooks, Chief Medical Officer of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Anyone, anyone, can develop [and] spread the monkeypox infection, but … many of those affected by the current global outbreak are identified as gay and bisexual men.”

There is one confirmed case of monkeypox and four suspected cases in the United States, the CDC announced Monday.

The confirmed case involves a man from Massachusetts and the four cases of orthopox involve men from New York, Florida and Utah. Orthopox refers to poxviruses in general.

“It is likely that there will be additional cases reported in the United States,” said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, veterinarian and deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Pathogens and High Consequence Conditions.

Brooks said the CDC decided to hold a press conference on the outbreak now, because LGBTQ Pride Month usually begins around Memorial Day weekend, and officials wanted to make sure the community was at ease. aware of the situation. He also urged doctors to be on the lookout for the disease because it can resemble other types of STDs.

“In some cases, during the early stages of the disease, the rash was primarily in the genital and perianal area,” Brooks said. “In some cases it has produced anal or genital lesions that resemble other illnesses like herpes, chicken pox or syphilis.

“What we’re trying to do by bringing attention to the fact that some of these cases have had genital and perianal presentation is just to remind people that people can come in for an assessment of what they think be an STD, but we’d like the provider to think ‘could it also be monkeypox?’ if the circumstances fit the story,” Brooks added.

Monkeypox is an extremely rare viral disease that resembles smallpox, but is considered clinically less severe, according to the World Health Organization. Cases usually occur in West and Central Africa. But several people have recently been diagnosed with monkeypox in areas that don’t usually see the disease, including Canada, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the US.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be spread through intimate contact during sex when someone has an active rash.

It can also be spread by large respiratory droplets, but since large droplets do not travel far through the air, contact must be prolonged for this to occur.

Monkeypox can be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids or through contact with contaminated clothing or linens, according to the CDC.

“Anyone can spread monkeypox [from] contact with bodily fluids or monkeypox sores or respiratory droplets in close proximity to someone,” Brooks said.

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The virus typically incubates for seven to 14 days before symptoms appear, according to the CDC.
Early symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. The disease then progresses to a rash and lesions that become covered with blisters and scabs. It can happen all over the body. The disease usually lasts two to four weeks.
A person can be contagious from one day before the rash appears until 21 days after symptoms start. Once the scabs fall off, the person is no longer contagious, according to the CDC.

The risk to the general public from this outbreak is low, according to the CDC.

“I don’t think there’s a big risk to the general monkeypox community right now in the United States. communicate effectively with them and help bring this outbreak under control,” McQuiston said.

Monkeypox does not appear to be spreading so quickly that parties or events have had to be canceled to stop the spread.

“It’s not Covid,” McQuiston said. “Respiratory spread is not the overriding concern. It’s contact, and intimate contact, in the current outbreak context and population. And that’s really what we want to emphasize.”

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It is also important that this epidemic does not cause stigma towards the LGBTQ community, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. He warned that some reporting and commentary on monkeypox has used language and images that reinforce stereotypes and exacerbate stigma.

“Experience shows that stigmatizing rhetoric can quickly disable an evidence-based response by fueling cycles of fear, driving people away from health services, hampering case identification efforts and encouraging ineffective punitive measures. We value LGBTI community for leading the way in raising awareness – and we reaffirm that this disease can affect anyone,” UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Matthew Kavanagh said in a statement on Monday.

The WHO has also warned people not to use the disease as a way to negatively label a particular community.

“There is a lot of stigma and discrimination that surrounds many diseases, and I think the key thing that we need to be careful about is, as WHO, to work with our partners in communities and elsewhere to make sure we that the message is correct. we see cases among men who have sex with men, it is not a homosexual disease,” WHO adviser Andy Seale said on Monday.

There is no safe, proven treatment specifically for monkeypox, but a vaccine made by a Danish company called Bavarian Nordic has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The United States signed a new contract with the company and placed an order for $119 million, with the option to purchase an additional $180 million if needed.
The antiviral drug tecovirimat, sold under the brand name TPOXX, is included in the national stockpile and could be used for monkeypox, although there are no data on its effectiveness in humans. There are also no data on the human efficacy of another possible treatment, anti-vaccine immunoglobulin (VIG).
Because the monkeypox virus is closely related to the smallpox virus, the smallpox vaccine may protect against monkeypox, according to the CDC. The National Strategic Stockpile contains enough smallpox vaccine to protect everyone in the United States, according to the CDC.

The United States is responding to a request to release the Northern Bavarian Jynneos monkeypox vaccine from stockpile.

The CDC recommends anyone with a new or unexplained rash get it checked out by a medical professional. Infected people should stay in isolation at home away from people and pets, should wear a surgical mask, and should cover their lesions as much as possible until they heal. They should avoid close contact with children, pregnant people and those with weakened immune systems, as these groups are at greater risk of complications if they catch the virus.

CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Claudia Dominguez and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.

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