Monkeypox outbreak needs to be taken more seriously, says Fauci
(CNN) — As monkeypox cases rise in the United States, a top health official is stressing that the outbreak must be handled more rigorously.
“This is something that we definitely need to take seriously. We don’t know its scope and potential yet, but we need to act like it has the ability to spread much further than it is spreading right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN this Saturday.
Monkeypox has been found in most of the United States, with the exception of a handful of states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). states with the most cases include New York, California, Illinois and Florida.
The most recent data show that the CDC has tracked at least 1,814 probable or confirmed cases in the US as of Friday.
Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN’s Laura Coates that those numbers are “most likely an undercount.”
“Whenever something like this comes up, you’re probably always looking at what could be, could be, we don’t know, the tip of the iceberg, so that’s why we have to get evidence in a much, much more vigorous,” Fauci said Saturday.
Monkeypox is a poxvirus, related to smallpox and cowpox. The virus typically causes pimple-like or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, the CDC explained.
The lesions are usually concentrated on the arms and legs, but in the latest outbreak, they appear more frequently in the genital and perianal areas, which has raised some concerns that monkeypox lesions could be mistaken for a transmitted disease. sexual.
The virus spreads through close contact, including direct physical contact with lesions, as well as “respiratory secretions” shared through face-to-face interaction. Touching objects that have been contaminated by monkeypox lesions or fluids can also put the spread of the virus at risk.
And while monkeypox is not an STD, it has spread primarily among men who have sex with men.
More vaccines and tests for communities
On Saturday, Fauci said more testing will be done with five commercial testing labs coming online, and he expects as many as 700,000 vaccines to be distributed to communities by the end of July.
“Because you want to protect people at risk, not just people who might have been exposed and who they know, but also people, by virtue of the fact that they’re at risk, who need to be vaccinated,” he said. .
The US has more than tripled its doses of monkeypox vaccine since last week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. But that supply remains short of what is needed to help control the spread.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.