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There are now nine confirmed cases of monkeypox—a virus typically limited to certain regions in Africa—in seven states across the country, the Centers for Disease Control said on Thursday, as the number of infections worldwide also continues to rise.
Cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia and New York, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters, according to CNN.
Walensky said all cases involved gay, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, while calling for a strategy “guided by science, not stigma,” CNN reported.
Some of the confirmed cases had recently traveled internationally to areas with active outbreaks, while others had not, , suggesting some level of “community spread,” Walensky said, according to CNBC.
The update comes as roughly 20 countries around the world have reported more than 200 confirmed or suspected infections of monkeypox, with most occurring in Europe.
Monkeypox is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease, but is spread through close contact with an infected animal, person or materials contaminated with the virus.
The U.S. has been “preparing for this type of outbreak for decades,” Walensky added, CNBC reported.
What To Watch For
Further explanation from the CDC on how cases are spreading. The public health agency is working on “active contact tracing” to understand how the cases “might have been in contact with each other,” Walensky told reporters Thursday.
“Other communities outside of the LGBTQ community also need to remain vigilant. The transmission can happen whether you are in that community or not,” Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior director for global health security and biodefense at the White House National Security Council, told reporters, according to CNBC.
Western countries started to report cases of monkeypox earlier this month. Since then, cases have cropped up in a host of European countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France. The U.S. reported its first infection in Massachusetts last week. Cases of monkeypox are usually found in parts of Central and Western Africa, but are rare elsewhere in the world, and many of the infections in the Western outbreak have not been linked to travel. Nigeria continues to report cases in a large outbreak that started in 2017, according to the World Health Organization. Early symptoms of the virus include fever, muscle aches, headache and chills that can lead to a rash that looks like chickenpox or syphilis. Authorities have not reported any deaths as a result of the latest outbreak, and the CDC says most people recover within two to four weeks without specific treatments. Still, CDC officials announced earlier this week the Strategic National Stockpile will release doses of Jynneos, a vaccine the U.S. gathered in preparation for a possible smallpox outbreak, that is also effective against monkeypox.
CDC identifies 9 monkeypox cases in 7 states (CNN)
Monkeypox: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Rare Virus Found In The U.S., U.K. And Europe (Forbes)