Two children in the United States have been diagnosed with monkeypox

New York (AFP) – Two children have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the United States, health officials said Friday.

One is a toddler in California and the other is an infant who is not a resident of the United States but was tested while in Washington, D.C., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The children were described as being in good health and receiving treatment. How he contracted the disease is being investigated, but officials believe it was through house transmission.

Other details were not immediately disclosed.

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature oval-shaped monkeypox viruses, left, and immature spherical virions, right, obtained from a human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/Center for Disease Control via AP

Monkeypox virus is endemic to parts of Africa, but this year more than 15,000 cases have been reported in countries that have not historically experienced the disease. In the United States and Europe, the vast majority of infections have occurred in men who have sex with men, although health officials have confirmed that anyone can contract the virus.

In addition to the two children’s cases, health officials said they are aware of at least eight women among the more than 2,800 US cases reported so far.

While the virus mostly spreads among men who have sex with men, “I don’t think it’s surprising that we’ll sometimes see cases” outside of that social network, CDC’s Jennifer McCuston told reporters Friday.

Officials said the virus can spread through close personal contact, and through towels and bedding. This means it can occur in homes, likely through prolonged or intense contact, said Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“People don’t crawl on each other’s beds unless they live in the same house or family,” he said.

In Europe, there have been at least six cases of monkeypox virus among children 17 years of age or younger.

Doctors in the Netherlands this week published a report of a boy seen in an Amsterdam hospital with about 20 red-brown bumps scattered across his body. It was monkeypox, and doctors said they couldn’t say how he contracted it.

In Africa, monkeypox infection among children was more common, and doctors noted higher rates of severe cases and deaths among young children.

One reason, Lawler said, may be that many older adults were vaccinated against smallpox as children, and it likely gave them some protection against the associated monkeypox virus. Smallpox vaccinations were discontinued when the disease was eradicated about 40 years ago.

The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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