US to distribute monkeypox vaccines nationwide to curb outbreak
Amid the surge in monkeypox cases in the United States, the White House said on Tuesday that it will start distributing the monkeypox vaccines across the country, with a focus on people most at risk and communities with the highest number of cases. The US Department of Health and Human Services will send 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine to areas with high transmission.
- After the US confirmed the first monkeypox case on May 18, nearly 306 cases have been reported in 28 states, according to the data by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Also, until recently the CDC had advised that vaccine should be given after exposure to people whom health officials identify as close personal contacts.
- Now it is expanding its vaccine recommendation.
The White House on Tuesday said that an additional 240,000 doses will be distributed over the next few weeks, and a combined 1.6 million additional doses would become available over the coming months. According to CDC, California, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Washington DC account for the highest number of monkeypox cases.
The CDC's vaccine recommendation could include gay men who have had multiple sex partners recently in an area where monkeypox was known to be spreading. "It's almost like we're expanding the definition of who a contact might be," said the CDC's Jennifer McQuiston. If people have visited a place where monkeypox is known to have spread, they are recommended to get vaccinated, she said.
Monkeypox, a zoonotic disease emerged in Africa, does not usually spread among people. In May, cases began emerging in Europe and the United States. However, not many of the affected people had traveled abroad. Most cases were reported in gay men, but health officials stressed that anyone could be affected. Notably, there have not been deaths in the US due to monkeypox.
Mostly transmitted to humans from animals, monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease. Most cases of the monkeypox infection are found in West and Central Africa. According to the World Health Organization, the monkeypox virus is similar to human smallpox. Although monkeypox is said to be much milder than smallpox, with a mortality rate of up to 10%, it can be fatal in rare cases.
The first case of human monkeypox was identified in 1970 in Congo (formerly Zaire) in a nine-year-old boy, two years after smallpox had been eradicated from the region. Since then, most cases have been reported from rainforest regions of the Congo Basin where it is considered endemic. However, in 2017, 40 years after its last confirmed case, Nigeria witnessed the biggest outbreak to date.
According to the WHO, the incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range between 5−21 days, too. Following this, fever, rash, severe headache, backache, muscle aches (myalgia), intense asthenia (lack of energy), and swollen lymph nodes kick in. Apart from the face, rashes affect the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, oral mucous membranes, genitalia, conjunctivae, and cornea.