The two cases are unrelated and likely the result of family transmission, the CDC said.
One case is an infant who resides in California. The other is a baby who is not a US resident. Public health officials are investigating how the children became infected.
Both have symptoms but are healthy and are receiving treatment with an antiviral drug called tecovirimat or TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under age 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk of infection.
Since the monkeypox outbreak began in May, most cases have occurred in men who have sex with men. However, anyone can catch the virus through close skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as shared items such as towels, bedding, cups and utensils.”
The CDC says the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is made available to children through special expanded use protocols. The agency also developed new guidelines for health care providers on identifying, treating and preventing monkeypox in children and adolescents.
Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathologies, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the United States should be prepared to respond further.
“The social networks that we have as humans mean that we have contact with a lot of different people. And although this epidemic is currently spreading in a particular social network, I think that we have signaled from the beginning that it there could be cases that happen outside of those networks and that we need to be vigilant and ready to respond and send messages about that,” she said.
“I know in Europe and other places where this epidemic is also growing, they have reported cases in children, in women. And I think the same thing is happening and should happen here in the United States. United,” she said.
“There is no evidence to date that we see this virus spreading to any degree outside of these populations,” McQuiston said.
Vaccine supply is improving
On Friday afternoon, the US government shipped 300,000 monkeypox vaccines to US states and territories.
“That means hundreds of thousands of Americans are going to be vaccinated within days or weeks,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Friday. “Jurisdictions, state territories, cities receive their vaccines typically about 30 hours after they are ordered.”
Jha said Friday that New York City received enough monkeypox vaccine to provide at least one dose to about half of its eligible population, while DC received enough to provide a 70% dose. its eligible population.
The newly released doses increase the available supply, but they only cover a small part of the eligible population. The CDC estimates that more than 1.5 million people are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine.
The Jynneos vaccine prescribing information states that a complete course consists of two injections given four weeks apart. The CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration have said people need both doses to completely prevent the disease.
But in New York and other places experiencing a high degree of viral spread, authorities gave as many people a first injection as possible, even before second doses became available.
This strategy makes sense, Jha said on Friday.
“The FDA and the CDC clearly believe that people need two doses. And the reason New York and many other places have been able to move forward with a first dose for everyone is because we were able to show them that more doses are coming and second doses can be given to people,” he said. “So given that, we encourage people to go ahead and use all their doses as first doses.”
People are eligible to be vaccinated against monkeypox if they know they have been exposed to the virus or if they suspect they have been exposed because they have had multiple sexual partners or attended an event where the monkeypox is known to have spread.
“We continue to see the majority of cases in the United States being reported in people who identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men,” McQuiston said. More than 99% of monkeypox cases in the United States for which the CDC has information have involved male-to-male sexual contact.