Health officials with the CDC, White House and Health and Human Services said that while the risk of getting monkeypox is still very low, they want people to know what to look out for and how to get treated.
They're focused on isolating individuals until their sores hea, and they also want to provide vaccines to close contacts. So far, there have been 21 confirmed cases of the rare viral illness in 11 states, health officials said Friday.
There are also several presumptive cases including in Los Angeles County.
The virus can spread through contact with body fluids and sores. While it's not generally considered a sexually transmitted infection, most cases have been found in men who had sex with other men and are linked to international travel, officials say.
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“I think it’s too early to know whether monkeypox can become endemic, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that monkeypox has been endemic in several countries for decades,” CDC Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases spokeswoman, Capt. Jennifer McQuiston said.
Symptoms include fever, body aches and fatigue and occur within 21 days of infection.
The two variants affecting people in the U.S. are both connected to strains seen in Nigeria since 2017, and have been linked to cases in Europe, health officials said.
Doctors said the appearance of monkeypox can also be confusing because it changes overtime.
“They start out with what we call macules; sort of round areas, and they turn into papules, which become like a higher raised area almost like a pencil eraser,” McQuiston said. Bumps can also be fluid-filled.
If you have these symptoms or have been in physical contact with someone who does, you can ask a doctor to test you for monkeypox.
White House epidemiologist, Dr. Raj Panjabi said the administration is committed to testing, tracing and treatment.
“We want to offer vaccines to people who have high-risk contact with infected individuals,” Dr. Panjabi said.
Doctors said unlike the coronavirus, controlling the monkeypox outbreak is more promising because it’s harder to contract and there are two vaccines available. For security reasons, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O'Connell would not say how many doses they have stockpiled.
“I do want to say we have enough vaccine on hand to manage the current outbreak,” O'Connell said.
CDC officials said they’re collaborating with local and global public health partners to learn more about how this outbreak began and how it’s spreading.
Out of the 700 people affected globally, no one has died during this current outbreak, officials said.