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Gay community most vulnerable to monkeypox threat, vaccines coming soon: CDC | Health

MONDAY, May 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) – At a media briefing on Monday, U.S. health officials said they were tracking several cases of monkeypox related to travel reported across the country.

Anyone can get monkeypox, but it now appears to be “circulating around the world in some parts of the gay community,” said Dr. John Brooks, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s HIV / AIDS Prevention Division. during the briefing.

Contact tracking is being conducted for the first confirmed case, a man from Massachusetts who recently traveled to Canada, added Captain Jennifer McQueston, deputy director of the Division of Pathogenic Microorganisms and High-Impact Pathology at the CDC.

Four more suspected cases of monkeypox have also been reported in different parts of the United States, McQueston said, one in New York, one in Florida and two in Utah.

All reported cases were in men who, according to the CDC, were exposed to the virus while visiting other countries.

Monkeypox causes a rash with skin lesions, and it can focus on specific parts of the body or spread more widely throughout the body, McQueston said during a briefing. It starts with flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes.

The disease is very rarely life-threatening.

“The strain in the cases, both in the United States and around the world, is a West African strain that is the mildest of the two strains of monkeypox virus,” McQueston said. “Most people infected with monkeypox recover within two to four weeks without special treatment.”

Brooks explained that a person can become infected with monkeypox if he comes in contact with an active rash, respiratory drops or biological fluids of an infected patient.

“Smallpox is transmitted through close personal contact,” Brooks said. “Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection in the usual sense, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact, as well as through personal contact and shared bedding and clothing.”

Serious complications usually occur when the monkeypox rash spreads to specific parts of the body, McQueston said. For example, damage to the eye can compromise vision, and swollen lymph nodes can compromise breathing.

Effective vaccines are available

There are already a couple of smallpox vaccines that can help protect humans from monkey infections, CDC experts said, and they are preparing to spread. Fears of a potential smallpox outbreak have long forced the U.S. federal government to stockpile huge numbers of these vaccines, McQiston explained.

“Now we hope to maximize the spread of the vaccine among those who, as we know, will benefit from it,” she said. “So these are people who have had contact with a known monkey patient, health professionals, very close personal contacts and in particular those who may be at high risk for a serious illness. I can report that there has been a request for release. Jynneos vaccine from the national stockpile for some high-risk contacts of some of the early patients. So it’s actively happening now. “

Health officials are tracking more than 200 contacts related to the first case in Massachusetts, McQiston said. Most of these contacts are health professionals.

There are also antiviral drugs to treat smallpox that can be used to treat severe cases of monkeypox, added Dr. Brett Petersen, a medical officer with the CDC’s Office of Smallpox and Rabies Viruses.

One, tecovirimat, already has expanded access from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat monkeypox, Petersen said. The CDC is working to obtain a similar permit for emergency access to a new smallpox drug, brincidafovir.

No need to panic, just expand your strength

Gay Pride Week kicks off next Friday, Brooks said, and health workers are spreading information through the media and LGBTQ + organizations to warn participants of future events about the outbreak.

“I don’t think there is currently enough evidence that the spread is happening so fast that we want to close any activities or recommend postponing them,” Brooks said. “On the contrary, what we want to do is give people the opportunity to take the initiative to refrain from participating when they feel bad and see appreciation.”

Gay men attending Pride events need to “realize that if you feel bad and have a rash, it may be a good time to back off,” Brooks said. “And if after the event you find that you have some symptoms or a rash suspected of possible monkeypox, ask for an assessment.”

As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and another 28 suspected cases were reported in 12 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

France, Germany, Belgium and Australia confirmed their first cases on Friday Associated Press reported.

“I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and more and more countries are infected,” said virologist Oevale Tomori, who is a member of several advisory boards of the World Health Organization.

“It’s not the kind of proliferation we’ve seen in West Africa, so something new could happen in the West,” he said. AP.

No new mutation

There is currently no evidence that monkeypox, which is spreading around the world, is a new or more dangerous strain of the virus, McQiston said.

“All the evidence we have to date suggests that the monkeypox virus circulating in these communities is closely linked to the monkeypox viruses we have seen circulating in West Africa over the past few years,” he said. McQueston. “The sequence data we have in the case of Massachusetts, which coincides with the sequence data in the Portuguese case, show that they are very closely related to the viruses we saw from West Africa.”

The virus was first discovered in 1958, when monkeys had two outbreaks of smallpox-like disease. The first known case of a man occurred in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and since then it has been reported in other Central and West African countries, according to the CDC.

Although it does not occur naturally in the United States, this is not the first time monkeypox has been observed in the country. In 2003, an outbreak was linked to infected meadow dogs imported as pets.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information smallpox monkeys.

SOURCES: Captain Jennifer McQueston, DVM, Deputy Director of the Division of Disease Pathogens and Pathologies with High Impact, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; John Brooks, MD, Medical Epidemiologist, Department of HIV / AIDS Prevention, CDC; Brett Petersen, MD, MD, Department of Poxvirus and Rabies, CDC; Associated Press

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