CDC Says Monkeypox Does Not Easily Spread By Air: “This Is Not Covid”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to calm public anxiety about how the monkeypox virus is transmitted, pointing out that it does not spread easily through the air because it requires close contact with an infected person.

Monkeypox is mainly spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active rash, CDC officials said this week. But it can spread through respiratory droplets, though not as easily as Covid, they said.

A monkeypox patient with throat or mouth lesions can spread the virus through respiratory droplets if he is close to someone else for an extended period of time. However, the virus doesn’t spread easily this way, according to Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official.

“This isn’t Covid,” McQuiston told reporters in a phone call Monday. “Respiratory spread is not the overriding concern. It is contact and intimate contact in the current context of the epidemic and in the population.”

For example, nine people with monkeypox have taken long flights from Nigeria to other countries without infecting anyone else on the planes, according to McQuiston.

“It’s not a situation where if you walk past someone at the grocery store, they’ll be at risk for monkeypox,” McQuiston said.

According to Dr. John Brooks, medical epidemiologist at the CDC’s AIDS Prevention Division.

However, Brooks said frontline health care workers should use standard infectious disease precautions when treating a patient with monkeypox, including wearing N95 breathing mask, gloves, and a gown if patient contact is particularly severe. narrow.

The United States has confirmed a case of monkeypox in Massachusetts and four anticipated cases in New York City, Florida and Utah that need further investigation. The CDC sequenced the virus from the Massachusetts patient within 48 hours and found that it matched the sequence from a patient in Portugal, McQuiston said. More cases are likely to be reported in the coming days, she added.

Recent cases of monkeypox in the United States and around the world have been identified as the West African strain, a milder form of the virus. Monkeypox belongs to the same family as smallpox, but it’s not that serious. Most people infected with this monkeypox strain recover in two to four weeks without specific treatment, McQuiston said.

Monkeypox usually begins with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, chills, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. The disease then progresses into skin rashes that can spread to different parts of the body including the face, eyes, hands, feet, mouth or genitals. These rashes turn into raised bumps that become blisters. However, the rashes appeared first in some of the recent cases.

The World Health Organization has identified around 200 confirmed or suspected cases in at least a dozen countries. The recent outbreaks are unusual because they occur in North American and European countries where the virus is not endemic, such as in Africa. Monkeypox is usually found in a handful of West and Central African nations with rainforests where animals carrying the virus live.

The WHO said this week the virus appears to be spreading among men who have sex with men right now. Brooks, the CDC official, warned gay and bisexual men of the potential risk, although he pointed out that anyone can contract the virus regardless of sexual orientation.

Brooks said that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, which generally spreads through sperm and vaginal fluids. However, monkeypox is spread through intimate contact and shared bedding, she said. Brooks said it’s important for doctors and individuals to know that some of the current patients have anal or genital lesions that can be confused with sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes or syphilis in addition to chickenpox.

“Anyone who has a rash or lesion around or involving their genitals, anus or any other place they have never seen before should be fully evaluated, both for that rash but specifically for the infection. sexually transmitted and other diseases that can cause rashes, “Brooks said.

The CDC plans to ramp up its public health messages ahead of LGBTQ Pride Month, which begins in June, so people in the community are aware of the situation, Brooks said.

The recent monkeypox outbreak in multiple countries is also different from Covid because there are already Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines that are effective in preventing monkeypox. The United States has a stock of 100 million doses of an older generation smallpox vaccine called ACAM2000 that can be used for monkeypox, although it can have significant side effects, and any decision to distribute it widely would require serious discussion, he said. McQuiston.

There is another vaccine, Jynneos, which targets smallpox and monkeypox and does not have the same risk of significant side effects. It is given in two doses for people 18 years of age and older who are at high risk of smallpox or monkeypox. However, the United States only has 1,000 doses of this vaccine available, although the company, Bavarian Nordic, will begin increasing production in the coming weeks, McQuiston said.

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