More info available on long COVID, what to know about the monkeypox vaccine, and more COVID news
Here’s some COVID news for today, May 25.
What we know now about long COVID
New U.S. research on long COVID-19 provides fresh evidence that it can happen even after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, and that older adults face higher risks for the long-term effects.
In a study of veterans published Wednesday, about one-third who had breakthrough infections showed signs of long COVID.
A separate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to a year after an initial coronavirus infection, 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older had at least one potential long COVID health problem, compared with 1 in 5 younger adults.
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Federal budget deficit could shrink by more than half
The US budget deficit could shrink to $1 trillion this year from $2.8 trillion last year as federal spending on Covid-19 aid slows and the economy rebounds, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
Despite the reduction, the federal deficit remains “large by historical standards” and is expected to increase over the next decade, according to a statement from CBO Director Phillip Swagel.
The CBO projects that the deficit will decrease again next year, but then increase to 6.1% of gross domestic product by 2032 — significantly larger than the 3.5% of GDP that deficits have averaged over the past 50 years.
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US is offering vaccines to certain people exposed to monkeypox
As global health leaders investigate an unusual outbreak of monkeypox across more than a dozen countries, discussions in the United States have turned to vaccination against the disease — and certain people exposed to the virus could be offered a vaccine.
Vaccines for monkeypox are now available to some health care workers treating infected people.
A senior Biden administration official said Tuesday that, in general, small clusters of people who have been exposed to a monkeypox patient with symptoms could be offered vaccination — but this is not a mass vaccination effort.
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Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.
The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
AP photo/Janet Hostetter
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
Most patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks. Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.
People exposed to the virus are often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Anti-viral drugs are also being developed.
On Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended all suspected cases be isolated and that high-risk contacts be offered the smallpox vaccine.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File
The World Health Organization estimates there are thousands of monkeypox infections in about a dozen African countries every year. Most are in Congo, which reports about 6,000 cases annually, and Nigeria, with about 3,000 cases a year.
Patchy health monitoring systems mean many infected people are likely missed, experts say.
Isolated cases of monkeypox are occasionally spotted outside Africa, including in the U.S. and Britain. The cases are typically associated with travel to Africa or contact with animals from areas where the disease is more common.
In 2003, 47 people in six U.S. states had confirmed or probable cases. They caught the virus from pet prairie dogs that been housed near imported small mammals from Ghana.
AP Photo/Allen Sullivan
It's the first time monkeypox appears to be spreading among people who didn't travel to Africa.
In Europe, infections have been reported in Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Most of the cases involve men who have had sex with men.
Britain's Health Security Agency said its cases are not all connected, suggesting that there are multiple chains of transmission happening.
The infections in Portugal were picked up at a sexual health clinic, where the men sought help for lesions on their genitals.
On Wednesday, U.S. officials reported one case of monkeypox in a man who had recently traveled to Canada, where authorities are investigating potential infections.
Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP
It's possible, but it's unclear at the moment.
Monkeypox has not previously been documented to have spread through sex, but it can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, their body fluids and their clothing or bedsheets.
Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, said it's still too early to determine how the men in the U.K. were infected.
“By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, whatever a person’s sexual orientation and irrespective of the mode of transmission," Skinner said.
Francois Balloux of University College London said monkeypox said sex qualifies as the kind of close contact needed to transmit the disease.
The U.K. cases "do not necessarily imply any recent change in the virus’ route of transmission,” Balloux said.
Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.