President Biden sounded the alarm on Sunday about monkeypox, a viral infection that is spreading rapidly around the world, and warned that the disease, which can be spread as easily as by handling a contaminated object, is “something everyone should be concerned about.” have to make”.
Monkeypox, rarely seen outside of Africa, has been found in Europe and the United States in recent weeks.
According to the World Health Organization, 92 cases and 28 suspected cases had been identified on Saturday in 12 countries outside the African countries where it is endemic. There is one confirmed case in the United States — a man in Boston was diagnosed last week — but public health officials believe the number of cases will increase rapidly.
Although only occasionally fatal, the rate at which the monkeypox virus is spreading has raised fears of a new pandemic that would put further strain on health systems already stretched by Covid-19.
“They haven’t told me about the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be concerned about,” said Mr. Biden at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he met with American troops before making his official visit to Asia as president on his first flight to Japan. “We’re working hard to find out what we’re doing and what vaccine may be available.”
He added: “But it’s a concern in the sense that if it spread, it would have repercussions.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is “no proven, safe treatment” for monkeypox, but the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of smallpox vaccines and antiviral treatments to help control outbreaks.
dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said later on Sunday that the United States had the means, including the smallpox vaccines, to keep the virus at bay.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to keep our arms around it,” said Dr. Jha in an interview on ABC’s “This Week”.
“We’re going to monitor it very closely and use the tools we have to make sure we continue to prevent further spread and take care of the people who get infected,” he said.
Two smallpox vaccines are approved for use in the United States, and they are also generally effective in preventing monkeypox infection. (One has been specifically approved for that purpose.) The United States has millions of doses stockpiled for use in a potential outbreak.
Most cases outside Africa have been found in Britain, Spain and Portugal. Austria reported its first case on Sunday.
The case reported in Boston last week was the first in the United States in nearly two decades. The man who became ill had recently traveled to Canada, which has had two cases this year.
What you need to know about the Monkeypox virus?
What is monkey pox? Monkeypox is a virus endemic to parts of Central and West Africa. It is a more benign version of smallpox. It was discovered in 1958, after outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States saw an outbreak of monkey pox in 2003 with dozens of cases. All were believed to have resulted from exposure to infected prairie dogs and other pets.
The virus can spread through bodily fluids, contaminated objects and skin contact, or through respiratory droplets emitted by an infected person.
New York City health authorities said Friday they had tested two patients who were being examined for possible monkey pox.
Monkeypox causes a rash that starts with flat red spots that become raised and filled with pus. Infected people will also have a fever and body aches.
Symptoms usually appear within six to 13 days, but can last up to three weeks after exposure. They can last for two to four weeks, with severe cases being more common in children, according to the World Health Organization.
Daniel Victor and Apoorva Mandavilli reporting contributed.