Who has the ‘greater chance’ of monkeypox exposure? Plus, high-risk COVID travel destinations, and more virus news
Here’s today’s COVID-19 news:
CDC warns LGBTQ community about ‘greater chance’ of monkeypox exposure
Anyone can get or spread monkeypox, but a “notable fraction of cases” in the latest global outbreak are happening among gay and bisexual men, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
“Some groups may have a greater chance of exposure right now, but by no means is the current risk of exposure to monkeypox exclusively to the gay and bisexual community in the US,” said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Anyone, anyone, can develop [and] spread monkeypox infection, but … many of those affected in the current global outbreak identified as gay and bisexual men.”
Get more info here:
What’s the latest on the coronavirus vaccine for children under 5?
Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that three doses of their vaccine were safe and produced a strong immune response in children 6 months to 5 years old.
This followed Moderna’s earlier announcement about its two-dose vaccine being safe and producing a good immune response in young children.
The US Food and Drug Administration is considering Moderna’s application for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for this youngest age group and will also be considering Pfizer’s soon.
Read more here:
CDC adds five new destinations to ‘high’ risk category for travel
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added five new destinations to its “high” risk category for travelers on Monday.
The Central American country of Belize, the Bahamas archipelago in the North Atlantic, the mountainous British overseas island territory of Montserrat, the Caribbean island country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the southern African country of Eswatini were all moved to Level 3, or “high” risk for Covid-19.
Four of the destinations were previously listed as Level 2, “moderate” risk: Bahamas, Belize, Eswatini and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Montserrat moved up two risk levels from Level 1 or “low” risk.
Find out more of the countries at risk here:
Get more of today’s COVID news here:
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.