At least four children in the US have tested positive for monkeypox, officials have confirmed.
Amid rising outbreaks across the country, Indiana state officials confirmed late last week that two children had tested positive for monkeypox. No additional information is available at this time due to patient privacy concerns, the Indiana Department of Health said in a statement.
“Like many other states, Indiana has seen an increase in cases of monkeypox in the last month,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Chris Box said in a statement.
Federal officials confirmed last month that two more children tested positive for monkeypox in the United States.
One case was confirmed in an infant who was a resident of California, and another was confirmed in an infant who was not a US resident while traveling through Washington, DC. and was probably the result of domestic transmissions.
While there is no word on the condition of the children who contracted the virus in Indiana, both of the other children diagnosed with monkeypox are said to be doing well.
However, there are concerns among health officials about how monkeypox can affect young children.
Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert warning that there is preliminary evidence that children younger than 8 may become more severely ill if they contract monkeypox.
Currently, the majority of cases confirmed domestically and globally in the current epidemic have been identified in gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. However, health officials have repeatedly emphasized that the virus does not discriminate and that anyone exposed to monkeypox can contract the virus.
People are most often infected through close person-to-person contact, including intimate contact, but the disease can also be spread through the respiratory tract or by “touching objects, fabrics (clothes, sheets, or towels) used by someone with monkeypox,” according to the CDC.
News of the additional cases of pediatric monkeypox comes as pressure mounts from officials across the country to declare a public health emergency for the outbreak in the United States.
Illinois on Monday became the second state in the country to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, calling Illinois a “disaster area” for the virus, Gov. JB Pritzker said in a press release.
“[Monkeypox virus] “This is a rare but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all public health resources to prevent its spread,” Pritzker wrote in a statement. and declare a state of emergency to increase treatment options.”
The governor’s declaration allows the Illinois Department of Health to expand access to resources, such as vaccines and tests, in the state’s efforts to combat the virus.
“We’ve seen this virus affect the LGBTQ+ community disproportionately since its initial spread. Here in Illinois, we’re making sure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe, while ensuring members aren’t stigmatized for seeking health care,” Pritzker added.
Last week, New York became the first state to declare monkeypox a “disaster emergency,” with officials calling New York City the “epicenter” of the outbreak.
Across the country, officials in San Francisco have implemented a local state of emergency to combat monkeypox.
More than 22,000 cases have been reported worldwide, including about 5,200 in the United States, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox has now been reported in nearly every state in the country, with only Montana, Vermont and Wyoming yet to confirm cases.