Authorities say the risk to the public is low because smallpox is difficult to transmit and easier to maintain than highly transmissible viruses such as coronavirus. But to control the epidemic quickly, the Public Health Office wants doctors to watch out for chickenpox rashes and for people with unusual lesions to seek medical attention.
Officials have also called on Americans to stigmatize gays as carriers of the disease or provided they are the only ones susceptible to the virus. The alleged case in Virginia concerns a woman who recently traveled to an African country, officials said.
Smallpox is spread by exposure to a person with active rashes or lesions, including skin-to-skin contact, contaminated clothing or bedding, or airway droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact when the lesions are in the mouth or throat. Experts say that the early concentration of cases in gay and bisexual men seems to be a coincidental result of the first patients infecting others on their social networks.
“Infectious diseases do not care about national or international borders. They are not included in social networks and the risk of exposure is not limited to any specific group, “CDC director Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Thursday. “Our priority is to help everyone make informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their community, and that starts with science-led awareness, not stigma.”
Cases of suspected smallpox have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, New York, Virginia, Washington state and California. Some are waiting for confirmation.
“We have to assume that there is some expansion of the community, but there is an active monitoring of contacts right now to understand if and how these cases may have been in contact with each other or with others in other countries,” Walensky said.
Doctors in Africa see a double meter as panic pox spreads
Federal officials say they are working with gay social networking and LGBTQ organizations to spread information about monkeypox smallpox before the June month of Pride. It is said that there is no reason to avoid celebrations, but people should avoid contact with people with rashes and seek medical attention if they experience unusual rashes.
More than 265 recent cases of monkeypox have been identified worldwide, mostly in Europe, according to a team of academics working with Global.health data initiative. Smallpox is generally limited to West and Central Africa, and cases are regularly detected in travelers from the region, including two cases in the United States last year.
The United States first experienced smallpox in 2003, when an epidemic linked to African rodents broke out, leaving dozens of infected people.
Smallpox causes a disease that lasts two to four weeks and begins with a fever or flu-like pain, followed by a rash characterized by purulent bumps. Recent cases have involved rashes near the genitals.
Monkey pox is rarely fatal and, due to its resemblance to smallpox, can be treated with antivirals and vaccines that are stored in the event of a smallpox outbreak. Vaccines can be given shortly after exposure to prevent serious illness.
Raj Panjabi, chief director of global health security and biological defense at the White House National Security Council, said officials provided vaccines to health workers who were exposed to the first known patients in Massachusetts.