US confirms first two cases of monkeypox in children – one in California

Health officials have confirmed the first two US cases of monkeypox in children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.

In a statement, the agency said both cases were “likely the result of household transmission” and “there was no contact with each other.”

One is a young child who lives in California and the other is an infant who is not a resident of the United States and was “passing through” the Washington, D.C. area when the test was taken.

“We only became aware of these cases this week, and we are working with the judicial authorities to understand more about these cases,” CDC’s Jennifer McCuston told reporters Friday.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walinsky first disclosed news of the cases in a virtual event with The Washington Post on Friday, saying both children are “doing well.”

Children, especially those younger than 8, are among those the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of a “particularly increased risk” of developing acute monkeypox.

Last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told reporters that at that point, they were only aware of cases of monkeypox in adults. But the agency admitted State and local health authorities passed on additional demographic information for less than half of all cases reported.

McCuston said the agency is now aware of at least eight cases in people who identify as heterosexual women. Most cases to date have been among men who have sex with men.

“There is no evidence yet that we’re seeing this virus spreading outside of this population to any degree, and I think the primary drivers of this infection in the United States remain in the gay, bisexual, and MSM communities at the moment.”

As of Friday, the CDC counted a total of 2,891 cases of monkeypox in the United States in 44 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

While the virus has resulted in many adult patients enduring pain and sometimes serious complications, many cases have so far resolved after several weeks without extensive treatment or hospitalization.

But health authorities warn that monkeypox may pose even greater risks to young children.

In countries that experienced an endemic outbreak of monkeypox before 2022, the World Health Organization warns that young children died at higher rates from the disease.

During the current outbreak, a few countries have also reported cases of monkeypox in children under 18 years of age.

The European Center for Disease Control’s peer counted at least five cases on Wednesday. Authorities in the Spanish capital announced on Wednesday that they had discovered a case of a 7-month-old baby who likely contracted the virus from their parents.

In the Netherlands, doctors reported that they were unable to determine how a child under 10 contracted the virus. No secondary cases of infection have been identified.

As with adults, medications such as the antiviral tekovirimat or TPOXX are available to treat cases of monkeypox in children and have been safely given to children in the past. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are no clinical studies that specifically investigate antiviral use in children.

Both children are being treated with tecovirimat, the agency said.

For vaccination, the Food and Drug Administration has only officially approved Jynneos injection for monkeypox for use in adults. However, federal health officials said the Biden administration has made arrangements to be able to provide doses to children in the event of the current outbreak.

In June, CDC officials said they offered doses of the Jynneos vaccine to at least one pediatric patient. A New Jersey hospital announced this week that it had made it easier to vaccinate a 3-year-old who had tested positive.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientists have estimated that monkeypox symptoms during the current outbreak take an average of a little more than a week to develop, after exposure to an infected person.

During that incubation period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that taking two doses of the monkeypox vaccine can reduce the severity of the disease or even prevent it from developing.

“The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days of the date of exposure in order to prevent disease onset. If the vaccine is given between 4-14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce symptoms of disease, but it may not prevent disease” , says the agency in its guidance.

A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration declined to confirm the number of requests the agency had granted for the vaccine to be used in children.

A company spokesperson confirmed that the state of Northern Bavaria plans to collect data based on the CDC’s use of the vaccine.

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