(CNN) — Two cases of monkeypox have been identified in children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a news release late Friday.
The two cases are unrelated and both are likely the result of internal transmission, the CDC said.
One case is a young child who is a California resident. The other is a baby who is not a resident of the United States. Public health officials are still investigating how the two boys became infected.
Both have symptoms but are in good health and are being treated with an experimental drug called TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under the age of eight because they are considered to be at higher risk of infection.
Since the outbreak began in May, most cases have been among men who have sex with men. However, anyone can get the virus through direct skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as sharing items such as towels, bedding, cups and utensils.”
The CDC says the Jynneos vaccine is available for children through special expanded use protocols. The agency has also developed new guidance for health care providers on the identification, treatment, and prevention of monkeypox in children and adolescents.
Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the United States should be ready to respond to more.
“The social networks that we have as humans mean that we have contact with many different people. And while this outbreak is spreading on one particular social network right now, I think we’ve sent a message from the beginning that there could be cases occurring outside of those networks and that we need to be vigilant and ready to respond and report to the respect,” he said.
“I know that in Europe and other places where this outbreak is also expanding, they have reported cases in children, in women. And I think the same thing is happening and is expected to happen here in the United States,” she said.
“There is no evidence to date that we are seeing this virus spread outside of those populations to any degree,” McQuiston said.
Improve vaccine supply
The US government shipped 300,000 monkeypox vaccines to US states and territories as of Friday afternoon.
“That means hundreds of thousands of Americans will be vaccinated in a matter of days or weeks,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said Friday. “Jurisdictions, state territories and cities receive their vaccines generally about 30 hours after ordering them.”
Jha said Friday that New York City had received enough monkeypox vaccines to provide at least one dose to about half of its eligible population, while Washington had received enough to provide one dose to 70% of its population. eligible.
The newly published doses increase the available supply, but cover only a small part of the eligible population. The CDC estimates that more than 1.5 million people are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine.
The prescribing information for the Jynneos vaccine says that a full course consists of two injections four weeks apart. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said that people need both doses to fully prevent illness.
But in New York City and some other places with high viral spread, officials have given as many people as possible a first shot, even before second doses are available.
That strategy makes sense, Jha said Friday.
“The FDA and CDC clearly believe that people need two doses. And the reason that New York and so many other places have been able to move forward with a first dose for everyone, is because we’ve been able to show them that more doses are coming and second doses can be given to people,” he explained. “So given that, we encourage people to go ahead and use all of their doses as first doses.”
People are eligible to be vaccinated against monkeypox if they know they were exposed to the virus or if they suspect they were exposed because they had multiple sexual partners or were at an event where monkeypox is known to have spread.
“We continue to see the majority of cases in the United States being reported among people who identify as gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men,” McQuiston said. More than 99% of the monkeypox cases in the US that the CDC has information about have involved male-to-male sexual contact.