Monkeypox: US confirms first cases of virus in children, CDC begins probe

The disease has been spreading largely among men who have sex with other men during the current outbreak, outside the central and west Africa where it is endemic.

Monkeypox: US confirms first cases of virus in children, CDC begins probe
India has confirmed three monkeypox cases — all from Kerala. (File)

The United States has recorded the first cases of the viral monkeypox disease in children. On Friday, two children were diagnosed with the disease, officials of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) said.

One of the children is a California toddler and the other an infant who is not a US resident. The US CDC described the children as being in good health and undergoing treatment. It is still being investigated how the two children caught the disease, but the officials think it was through household transmission.

Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions. The disease has been spreading largely among men who have sex with other men during the current outbreak, outside the central and west Africa where it is endemic, The Guardian reported. The disease spreads mainly through close contact.

This year, 14,000 cases have been recorded in more than 60 countries, including those that historically don’t see the disease. Africa has also recorded five deaths. The vast majority of the infections have happened in the US and Europe. Europe has witnessed at least six cases among children 17 years old and younger. This week, a report by doctors in The Netherlands said a boy who was seen at an Amsterdam hospital with 20 red-brown bumps across his body. He had contracted monkeypox and the doctors said they could not determine how.

The CDC’s Deputy Director in the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology Dr Jennifer McQuiston said during a conference call it was not a surprise that paediatric cases had emerged, but added “there is no evidence to date that we are seeing this virus spread outside” the communities of gay, bisexual and other men who had sex with men.

She said 99% of the 2,891 monkeypox cases in the US involved men who had sex with men, but a handful of women and transgender men who had also become infected.

White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr Ashish Jha said on the same call the US government had delivered 300,000 doses of a vaccine and was working to expedite the shipment of more doses from Denmark.

The fatality rate during previous outbreaks in Africa of the current strain was about 1%, but this outbreak seems to be less lethal in non-endemic countries.

India has confirmed three monkeypox cases — all from Kerala. On Friday, a 35-year-old man, who had returned from the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, tested positive for monkeypox.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George said the Malappuram native was undergoing treatment at the Manjeri Medical College and his condition was stable.

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