(CNN) — For the first time, a child tests positive for monkeypox in New York City. However, the city’s health commissioner says the risk to children remains low.
The city published data on monkeypox cases on Thursday that included an individual from 0 to 17 years old. Health officials have refused to provide the person’s age, gender or other identifying information. The Health Department said the infection in the New York resident was “linked to a household contact.”
In a statement to CNN on Saturday, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said, “There is a juvenile case of MPV (or monkey pox) in New York City. While we understand families’ concerns, we also know that the overall risk of exposure to children in the city remains very low.”
As of last week, at least 17 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox were reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among children 15 years of age and younger . The first two reported cases among children in the United States involved a toddler from California, and the other involved an infant who is not a US resident. The two cases were unrelated and were likely the result of household transmission. Last week, a person under the age of 18 was also reported to have monkeypox in New York state. Health officials said that person lives outside of New York City.
The monkeypox virus can be spread through close personal contact, such as skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with a monkeypox rash or scabs on an infected person, or direct contact with their respiratory secretions . Although the risk is low, there is also a chance that the virus could spread through contaminated objects or surfaces, such as clothing, bedding, or towels used by someone with monkeypox.
As of Friday, more than 17,000 people in the United States have confirmed or probable monkeypox infections, and nearly all of them are adults. But as classrooms reopen this fall, elementary, middle and high schools across the country are on alert for possible cases. The CDC emphasizes in guidance for schools and child care centers released this month that “the risk of monkeypox to children and adolescents in the United States is low” at this time, but schools should follow their daily protocols to reduce transmission of any infectious disease.
Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.