Children potentially exposed to monkeypox in Illinois daycare, officials say

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A person who works at a daycare center in Illinois has tested positive for monkeypox, which could expose children to the virus, state officials announced Friday.

Officials are screening children and others who were potentially exposed for symptoms and offering them vaccinations, which can prevent infection or reduce the severity of symptoms after exposure. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed potentially exposed children to receive the Jynneos vaccine, which is currently only licensed for adults.

What to know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments and protection

Officials did not say how many people were exposed to the virus, which is spread by close contact with an infected person and is not airborne. State officials said the person also works in a home health care setting and that they were in contact with an affected client.

“All available state, local and federal resources are being deployed to help families,” Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at a news conference.

Federal authorities have confirmed more than 7,100 cases of monkeypox in the United States, mostly among gay and bisexual men. At least five children have confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to federal officials. The case of the daycare worker in Illinois has raised concern among public health authorities, who fear the outbreak could circulate more widely if not contained.

Monkeypox illnesses usually resolve after a few weeks, and there are no known deaths in the US. But for children and people with weakened immune systems, the illness can lead to serious medical complications and has a fatality rate. higher in young children, according to World Health. Organization.

“An infection anywhere is potentially an infection everywhere,” said Anne Rimoin, a UCLA epidemiologist who has studied the monkeypox outbreak. “The more cases we see, the more opportunities for spread we see, and the more likely these scenarios are to exist.”

While monkeypox infections can incubate for weeks, Rimoin also stressed that people exposed to the daycare worker in Illinois would not necessarily test positive. “Domestic contacts don’t always get monkeypox, it’s not as transmissible as coronavirus,” she said.

World health authorities say that monkeypox, in the current outbreak, is transmitted mainly by close contact during sexual intercourse between gay and bisexual men. But they warn that it can be spread in other ways that often involve prolonged contact, such as hugging, kissing and dancing without clothes. Potential sources of spread to children include prolonged holding, cuddling, and feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Monday, saying the move would improve coordination among state agencies and speed Illinois’ response to the virus. US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra later declared a national public health emergency over monkeypox on Thursday, and Biden officials said the move would help unlock new funding and authority that could help contain the virus and end the outbreak in the US

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