July 25, 2022 – Two children have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the U.S. according to federal health officials.
One case is a toddler who is a resident of California, and the other is an infant who is not a U.S. resident but was tested while in Washington, DC, CDC officials told reporters on Friday.
Officials are investigating how the children got the disease, which officials believe occurred through household transmission. The two cases are unrelated.
Both children have symptoms but are in good health and are receiving treatment, according to CNN. They are being treated with an antiviral medication called tecovirimat (TPOXX), which the CDC recommends for children under age 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk.
More than 16,500 monkeypox cases have been reported worldwide in 68 countries that don’t typically see the disease, according to the latest CDC update. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Saturday as cases rose. The declaration means the WHO believes the public health threat requires a coordinated international response to prevent it from becoming a pandemic.
In the U.S., more than 2,890 monkeypox cases have been detected, with cases in all but six states, according to the latest CDC data. New York has reported 900 cases, followed by California with 356 cases and Florida with 247.
Most of the cases worldwide have been in men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can catch the virus, according to The Associated Press.
In Europe, at least six monkeypox cases have been found among people ages 17 and younger. CDC officials said Friday that at least eight women in the U.S. have gotten monkeypox as well.
With children, transmission could occur through “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups and utensils,” CDC officials told reporters.
The Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is being made available for children through special expanded use protocols, CNN reported. The CDC also has new guidance for health care providers about identifying, treating, and preventing monkeypox in children and teens.
The monkeypox cases in children aren’t surprising, and the U.S. should be prepared to respond to more cases in children, Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, told CNN.
“The social networks that we have as humans mean that we have contact with a lot of different people,” she said. “And while this outbreak is spreading in a particular social network right now, I think we’ve messaged from the start that there could be cases that occur outside those networks and that we need to be vigilant for it and ready to respond and message about it.”
The federal government had shipped 300,000 monkeypox vaccines to states and territories as of Friday afternoon, CNN reported. The CDC has estimated that more than 1.5 million people are eligible for the vaccine, including people who were exposed to the virus or may have been exposed to the virus through infected contacts.
“We’re going to be releasing hundreds of thousands of more vaccines in the next days and weeks. So there is a very substantial ramping up of response that is happening right now,” Ashish Jha, MD, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Sunday on CBS News’s Face the Nation.
“The plan is to eliminate this virus from the United States. I think we can do that,” he said. “We’ve got the vaccines and we’ve got the diagnostic tests.”