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What to Know: Monkeypox Cases Reported Globally

Case counts, risk remain low, but important to know signs of infection, CDC says

May 24, 2022

Public health officials continue to monitor reports of suspected monkeypox cases in the U.S. and around the world.

There are more than 185 confirmed cases and 90 suspected cases in about 20 countries, according to Global Health data. This includes two confirmed cases and six suspected cases in the U.S.

During a media briefing this week, CDC officials said they expected to see additional monkeypox cases, but the virus is not widespread at this point. They emphasized the importance of knowing the signs of the illness and seeking treatment if symptoms arise.

“Right now, the case count is low,” said Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, MS, CDC deputy director, division of high consequence pathogens and pathology.

The CDC highlighted the following key points about the public health response:

  • About the condition:  Monkeypox is characterized by a rash, with skin lesions that can be concentrated on certain body parts or be spread more widely across the body. The symptoms usually begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Most people who have the virus recover in two to four weeks without specific treatment.
  • Infection:  The virus is spread through close, sustained skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active rash. It is less commonly spread through respiratory droplets from someone who has lesions in their mouth and is around others for an extended period of time.
  • Notable difference:  Most of the reported cases do not have recent travel history to Nigeria or other regions where the virus is endemic. Some do have travel history in other countries in Europe and Canada during late April and early May.
  • Next steps:  The U.S. is releasing doses of the vaccine, Jynneos, from its national stockpile to treat people at high risk. An older smallpox vaccine, ACAM2000, is also available, but would be limited in its use, CDC officials said.
  • Quotable:  “We’re actively working to try to connect these dots to identify how the cases are spreading between countries,” McQuiston said..

Anyone can develop or spread the virus, said John Brooks, MD, medical epidemiologist, division of HIV/AIDS prevention. In some cases—during the early stages of illness—the rash has been mischaracterized as herpes, chickenpox, or syphilis, Brooks said, so it is important that clinicians are aware of the signs.

He emphasized that patients should seek medical care immediately if they develop new, unexplained skin rashes, with or without fever and chills, and avoid contact with others.

More information about monkeypox and the CDC’s response is available online. Additional information for clinicians is also available.