The number of cases of monkey smallpox is on the rise, but U.S. officials say the overall risk is low

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Biden administration officials warned on Friday that the monkey epidemic was on the rise in the United States, with at least 45 cases of the virus detected in 15 states and counties, up from 20 a week ago. However, they stressed that the threat to the community remains low and that public health facilities have the necessary tools to protect people.

“We have anti-monkey tests. We have smallpox vaccines and we have smallpox drugs, ”said Raj Panjabi, who led the White House’s Global Health Security Task Force. “We have a multifaceted approach to using those tools to combat this epidemic as effectively as possible.”

More than 1,300 cases of monkey smallpox have been identified worldwide, as the disease – which has appeared several times in recent decades in Central and West Africa but is rare in humans – is widespread in Germany, Portugal and other countries. United Kingdom. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current episode could be the worst outbreak of smallpox in the United States, surpassing the 2003 epidemic, which has confirmed 47 cases in six states.

But public health experts say smallpox is far less of a threat than the coronavirus pandemic, which has plagued the world since 2020 and has killed more than 1 million Americans.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the same as we saw in Kovid,” he said. In this case, the general public should not worry about it, “said Don Milton, an environmental scientist at the University of Maryland, who advised the White House and others to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“In case [monkeypox] The number of cases has increased, and I want to emphasize once again that there are no deaths associated with this epidemic, “said Rochelle Valenski, director of the CDC, at a briefing on Friday. and if they think the monkey has symptoms of smallpox, they want to seek help immediately. “

Symptoms of smallpox in monkeys often include fever, headache, and ulcers that can last for weeks. Although federal regulators have not approved specific treatments for smallpox, officials say treatments and vaccines designed to control smallpox are available through a strategic national stockpile.

«The [Strategic National Stockpile] There is enough vaccine to vaccinate millions of Americans if needed, ”said Down O’Connell, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services’ Preparatory and Response Department. A new vaccine has been delivered to Jinneos nearby. The warehouse also has a stockpile of antiviral drugs such as tecovirimat and cidofovir, officials said.

According to federal officials, the outbreak was caused by Americans traveling abroad.

“I think the majority of cases in the United States – 75 percent or more – are still on international travel, which could lead to their monkey disease,” said Jennifer McQueiston, CDC’s monkey smallpox manager.

A number of U.S. cases have also been linked to sexual intercourse, with officials urging them to warn of the dangers of direct physical contact playing in the spread of the virus.

However, some experts have questioned whether monkeys can spread through the air, echoing discussions that began at the beginning of the coronavirus. While the CDC and other public health agencies initially said the coronavirus was not transmitted through the air, the agencies changed management in 2021 and Biden repeatedly warned that indoor air was a major driver of coronavirus infections.

Last week, the CDC encouraged travelers to wear masks as a precaution against monkeypox, but this week removed the proposal, which was unnecessary and confusing.

Administration officials said on Friday that there was no reason to believe that smallpox was spreading through the air.

“Given the airborne transmission at the CDC, we are talking about small viral particles that will stay in the air and stay there for a long time,” Valensky said. “We have not seen this document through our experience with this virus or similar viruses in the past.”

External experts, such as Milton, have criticized the CDC’s decision to rule out the possibility of airborne smallpox, especially if the World Health Organization says it could be spread through the air.

“I don’t understand,” Milton said, citing evidence that smallpox was transmitted through the air. “If we don’t pay attention to the potential for airborne transmission in the short term, it could expand,” said the monkey, who is at risk of contracting smallpox.

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