Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Friday that the United States could see more cases of monkeypox before the numbers drop.
“With the scale of testing, with the scale of the information, we anticipate that there will be more cases before they decrease,” Valensky told The Washington Post.
Valensky said the CDC currently doesn’t have any specific estimates on how serious the situation may be. “I don’t think we have a stable estimate now,” said the director.
But the director notes that the United States detected two monkeypox cases in children for the first time on Friday. The CDC said in a statement that the two cases are unrelated and likely the result of domestic transmission.
The agency said the children are in good health and are being treated. They’re both doing well, but they’ve had contact with other people, and the CDC is tracking that, Valensky said.
According to CDC data, as of July 22, there have been more than 2,800 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases overall in the United States.
Dr Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said the government has distributed 300,000 doses of a monkeypox vaccine and is working to expedite the shipment of 7,86,000 more doses from Denmark.
He said there is already enough vaccine to provide the first vaccine dose to more than half the eligible population in New York City and more than 70 percent of the eligible population in Washington DC.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is usually spread through body fluids, respiratory droplets, and other contaminants. The disease usually results in fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
The United States is still evaluating whether the monkeypox outbreak should be declared a public health emergency. “We are looking at what are the ways in which the response can be stepped up, if any, by declaring a public health emergency,” Jha said.