Two children were diagnosed with the viral disease Monkeypox in the United States for the first time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the kids is a toddler from California and the other is an infant who is not a US resident. The children were described as being in good health and receiving treatment. How they caught the disease is being investigated, but officials think it was through household transmission. Other details weren't immediately disclosed.
Raj Panjabi, Director of White House Pandemic Preparedness Office, while commenting on WHO declaration said, "A coordinated, international response is essential to stop the spread of monkeypox, protect communities at greatest risk of contracting the disease, and combat the current outbreak."
Speaking on the reponse of the Biden administration in regards to the outbreak, the official said, "Since the earliest days of the outbreak, the Biden Administration has deployed a robust and comprehensive strategy to combat monkeypox here in the US, including dramatically scaling the procurement, distribution, and production of vaccines, expanding access to testing and treatments, and communicating with communities most at risk of contracting the virus."
As of July 22, the United States has altogether over 2,800 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases, according to CDC data. Dr Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said the government has delivered 300,000 doses of a monkeypox vaccine and is working to expedite the shipment from Denmark of 7,86,000 more doses.
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, but this year more than 15,000 cases have been reported in countries that historically don't see the disease. In the US and Europe, the vast majority of infections have happened in men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can catch the virus. In Europe, there have been at least six Monkeypox cases among kids 17 years old and younger. This week, doctors in the Netherlands published a report of a boy who was seen at an Amsterdam hospital with about 20 red-brown bumps scattered across his body. It was Monkeypox, and doctors said they could not determine how he got it.
In Africa, Monkeypox infections in children have been more common, and doctors have noted higher proportions of severe cases and deaths in young children. One reason may be that many older adults were vaccinated against smallpox as kids, likely giving them some protection against Monkeypox, said Dr James Lawler, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Smallpox vaccinations were discontinued when the disease was eradicated about 40 years ago. So, children since then have not been vaccinated against smallpox and wouldn't have any such protection against the related Monkeypox virus, Lawler said.