US confirms first monkeypox cases in children
Two children in the US have been infected with monkeypox, the nation’s first such cases involving minors, confirming the spread to a segment of the population that’s considered most at risk of developing severe disease from the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the new infections on Friday, saying one of the children is a toddler living in California and the other is a non-resident visiting the US. Both children were likely infected through household transmission of the virus.
“Both of those children are traced back to individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men’s community,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday in an interview with the Washington Post. She added that monkeypox infections in children typically involve cases that are “adjacent to the community most at risk.”
Nearly 2,600 monkeypox infections have been confirmed in the US since the first case was reported in May. Although the spread of the virus can come through non-sexual transmission – including contact with an infected person’s skin or his or her linens – the vast majority of infections so far have occurred in men who have sex with men.
There haven’t been any US deaths from the virus so far. Illnesses from the virus, which may cause rash and flu-like symptoms, are often relatively mild in men. However, the World Health Organization warned last month that monkeypox is potentially more dangerous for children and pregnant women. Historically, young children have died from the virus at higher rates than adults.
Walensky said the two children infected with monkeypox in the US are currently “doing well,” despite suffering some symptoms.
At least five children in Europe have been infected during the current monkeypox outbreak.
Jynneos, a vaccine for smallpox and monkeypox, has been formally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration only for adults. However, the administration of President Joe Biden has reportedly made it available in a handful of pediatric cases.