US confirms first two cases of monkeypox in children – one case in California

Health officials have confirmed the first two U.S. cases of monkeypox in children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday.

The two cases are “likely the result of family transmission” and “have had no contact with each other,” the agency said in a statement.

One is a toddler who lives in California and the other is an infant who does not reside in the United States and was “passing through” the Washington, DC area when the test was taken.

“We only became aware of these cases this week, and we have been working with the jurisdictions to learn more about these cases,” Jennifer McQuiston of the CDC told reporters on Friday.

On Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky revealed the news of the cases during a virtual event with The Washington Post, saying both children were “doing well.”

Children, especially those under the age of 8, are among those who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say are at “particularly increased risk” of serious illness from monkeypox.

Last week, CDC officials told reporters that at this time they were only aware of cases of monkeypox in adults. But the agency acknowledged that state and local health authorities only provided them with additional demographic information for less than half of all cases.

The agency is also aware of at least eight cases in people who identify as cisgender women, McQuiston said. So far, most cases have involved men who have sex with men.

“There is no evidence to date that we are seeing this virus spread outside of these populations to any degree, and I believe the primary drivers of this infection in the United States remain gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men communities right now,” McQuiston added.

As of Friday, the CDC had tallied a total of 2,891 cases of monkeypox in the United States across 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

While the virus has led many adult patients to endure pain and sometimes severe complications, many cases have so far resolved after several weeks without intensive treatment or hospitalization.

But health authorities warn that monkeypox can pose greater dangers to young children.

In countries that experienced endemic spread of monkeypox before 2022, the World Health Organization warns that young children have died at higher rates from the disease.

During the current outbreak, a handful of countries have also spotted cases of monkeypox in children under the age of 18.

The CDC’s European counterpart identified at least five cases on Wednesday. Authorities in the Spanish capital announced on Wednesday that they had detected a case in a 7-month-old baby who probably caught the virus from his parents.

In the Netherlands, doctors said they were unable to identify how a boy under 10 caught the virus. No secondary cases have been identified from the infection.

As with adults, drugs like the antiviral tecovirimat or TPOXX are available to treat cases of monkeypox in children and have been given safely to children in the past. However, the CDC says no clinical studies have specifically investigated the use of the antiviral in children.

The agency said both children are being treated with tecovirimat.

For vaccination, the Food and Drug Administration has only officially approved Jynneos monkeypox vaccines for use in adults. However, federal health officials said the Biden administration had developed provisions to be able to offer doses to children in the current outbreak.

In June, CDC officials said they offered doses of the Jynneos vaccine to at least one pediatric patient. This week, a hospital in New Jersey announced that it facilitated the vaccination of a 3-year-old child who had been exposed to a positive case.

CDC scientists have estimated that symptoms of monkeypox during the current outbreak take on average just over a week to develop, after exposure to an infected person.

During this incubation period, the CDC says taking the two-dose monkeypox vaccine can further reduce the severity of the disease or even prevent it from developing.

“The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days of the exposure date to prevent the onset of illness. If given between 4 and 14 days after the exposure date, vaccination may reduce symptoms of the disease, but cannot prevent the disease,” the agency says in its guidelines.

A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration declined to confirm the number of applications the agency has granted for use of the vaccine in children.

Bavarian Nordic plans to collect data based on CDC use of the vaccine, a company spokesperson confirmed.

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