US officials announce further steps against monkeypox

CHEAPRelated to a surprising and growing outbreak of monkeypox, US health officials on Tuesday expanded the group of people recommended for vaccination against the monkeypox virus.

They also said they are offering more monkeypox vaccineis working to expand testing and take other steps to try to weather the outbreak.

“We will continue to act aggressively against this type of disease,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator who also played a role in the government’s response to monkeypox. this virus.

The authorities say they are expanding the group of people advised to be vaccinated to include people who may have recognized themselves that they may have been infected.

Most monkeypox patients only have fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more severe illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body.

The disease is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through the bite of rodents or small animals. It is not usually contagious between people.

Last month, cases began to emerge in Europe and the United States. Many — but not all — people with the virus have traveled internationally. Most are men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can contract smallpox in monkeys.

The number of cases continues to increase. As of Tuesday, the US has identified 306 cases in 27 states and the District of Columbia. More than 4,700 cases have been detected in more than 40 other countries outside parts of Africa where the virus is circulating.

There have been no deaths in the US and officials say the risk to the American public is low. But they are taking steps to assure people that health measures are in place to deal with the growing problem.

One of the steps is to expand the population recommended for vaccination. Usually, vaccines are given to build immunity in people before they become infected. But if given within days or even weeks of being first infected, some vaccines can reduce the severity of symptoms.

A two-dose vaccine, Jynneos, is approved for monkeypox in the United States. And it’s the vaccine that officials have tried to use as a primary weapon against the outbreak.

US officials on Tuesday said they are increasing the amount of the Jynneos vaccine they are providing, allocating 56,000 doses immediately and about 240,000 more in the coming weeks. They promise more than 1 million in the coming months.

Another change: So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that the vaccine be given after contact with people that health officials have identified as close personal contacts of disease cases. But on Tuesday, CDC officials said they were expanding the recommendation to people who have never been identified but may have self-identified that they may have been infected.

That could include men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sexual partners in a location known to have monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading.

“It’s almost like we’re expanding the definition of who a contact can be,” said Jennifer McQuiston of the CDC. If people have been to a party or other place where monkeypox has been known to be contagious, “we recommend that they come get vaccinated,” she said.

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