Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky verified Friday that the United States has two confirmed pediatric cases of monkeypox, and that the children have been traced back to "to individuals who come from the men who have sex with men community."
"We ... have seen now two cases that have occurred in children. Both of those children are traced back to individuals who come from the men who have sex with men community, the gay men community," Walensky said during a video interview with The Washington Post Friday. "And so, when we have seen those cases in children, they have generally been what I call adjacent to the community most at risk. I should also mention, importantly, those children are doing well."
According to the CDC, "monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus," which is part of the same family as the smallpox virus with similar, but milder symptoms, and is rarely fatal.
The disease was discovered in 1958, but the first human case was not recorded until 1970 and was mostly confined to several central and west African countries.
Transmission out of these regions to other continents was primarily through international travel and importing animals, according to the agency.
As of Friday, the CDC reported there are a total of 16,538 confirmed cases of the disease globally, with 16,295 cases in 68 countries that have not historically reported the virus.
There are 2,592 confirmed cases reported in the United States, according to the agency.
Walensky told The Post that unlike COVID-19, years of data related to monkeypox are available. She also said that although the U.S. has ramped up its testing capability from 6,000 tests per week nationally to 70,000 per week now, the current demand for tests is only around 3,000 per week.
"So, one of the things that we've really had to do, in addition to our ability to scale up, is to do some teaching around the country to tell patients how monkeypox will present so that they can go present for care and to teach providers and clinicians what to look for and how to do the test for monkeypox," she said during the interview. "But I do want to articulate that we have never seen the demand for testing that has taken over our possibility of testing, our supply of testing. In fact, we have more and more testing that we should be doing, and we are doing a lot of clinical outreach in order to do so."
She said that one challenge, similar to what the agency faced with COVID-19, is the ability to capture "standardized" data in real time from 64 jurisdictions and 3,000 counties.
"We need standardization of those data, and we need to have those data come to us in a standardized fashion so that they can be connected, we can compile them and rapidly report them out," she said. "We cannot at CDC collect the data and make informed decisions by calling 64 jurisdictions and, honestly, 3,000 counties."
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