“It took a while” before the monkey picked up the pox, said the pediatric infectious disease specialist. wealthafter Illinois officials announced Friday that a daycare worker has been diagnosed with the chickenpox-related virus.
Kindergartens, schools, college campuses, prisons and other similar settings “definitely have the potential for monkeypox to spread,” said Dr. Alexandra Brugler Younts, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. She helped lead the FDA’s review of Ginneos — one of two smallpox vaccines licensed to treat monkeypox, and the safer of the two.
“Where there’s close physical skin-to-skin contact, especially with people in various stages of undress — there’s a risk,” he said.
All children and adults at an unidentified day care center in Champaign County, Illinois, have been tested and no additional cases have been identified, state health officials said Friday. JB Pritzker has been in contact with the White House regarding the situation.
But schools and crowded living spaces aren’t the only conditions ripe for the spread, Brugler-Yonts said. Also on the list of places where it can be transmitted: swimming pools and water parks – “not through water, but through contact with someone with an active lesion – especially in summer, given the tendency to reduce heat and clothing.”
Sports like football and wrestling can also be a problem, he added.
“Hopefully the outbreak can be contained in local areas, but as people continue to travel, be involved [aforementioned] activities and then school starts soon …. I think it will become more widespread. “Almost every state in the US has had similar cases.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 7,510 cases in the US as of Friday, with the majority in New York, California and Florida. Cases have been identified in all states except Wyoming and Montana.
More than 28,000 cases have been reported worldwide since January, almost all in countries where monkeypox is not considered endemic, according to the CDC. The US currently leads the world in confirmed cases, followed by Spain, Germany, the UK, France and Brazil. In African countries where the virus is considered endemic, only 345 cases have been reported since January. According to the World Health Organization, eighty-one children were infected by the end of July.
Illinois health officials said Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Ginneos, which is approved for adults 18 and older, to use “without jumping through the usual hoops” for at-risk children at the center. Mobile testing and vaccination services were in place, they added.
An FDA spokeswoman told Fortune in an email on Friday that the vaccine for such children is being approved through a “new drug application for a single-patient expanded access study” for each. Applications are reviewed “as soon as practicable” and “when no comparable or satisfactory alternative options are available and the treatment is requested by licensed physicians, they will be reviewed as soon as possible.” [sic] risk.”
A spokesperson would not comment further on the possibility of general approval for use of Jynneos in children.
Because Jynneos is licensed, it’s not approved for emergency use like the early COVID vaccines, which can be used “indiscriminately,” such as when given to exposed children, Brugler Yonts said.
The researchers “obviously want to collect safety and, if possible, immunogenicity data on these children and follow them closely because there are no preliminary data for use in the pediatric population,” he said. “But Ginneos is safe, and if it prevents more disease in the pediatric population and, of course, in the adults who care for them and live with them, that’s very important.”
The decision to vaccinate children is “worth the potential risk,” he added.
Sign up Features of Fortune Email list so you don’t miss out on the biggest opportunities, exclusive interviews and investigations.