Two children have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the United States, health officials said Friday.
One is a toddler in California and the other is an infant who is not a US resident but was tested while in Washington, DC, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The children are described as in good health and are being treated. How they contracted the disease is under investigation, but officials believe it is due to family transmission.
Other details were not immediately disclosed.
Wider geographic spread of infections
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, but this year more than 15,000 cases have been reported in countries where the disease was not previously seen.
In the US and Europe, the majority of infections occur in men who have sex with men, although health officials have emphasized that anyone can get the virus.
In addition to the two pediatric cases, health officials say they know of at least eight women out of more than 2,500 cases in the US reported so far.
“Although the virus is primarily spread among men who have sex with men, “I don’t think it’s surprising that we’re going to be,” CDC’s Dr. Jennifer McQuiston told reporters on Friday. sometimes go see cases” outside of that social network.
Officials say the virus can spread through close personal contact, as well as through towels and bedding.
That means it can happen indoors, possibly from long-term or multiple exposure, says Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb.
At least 6 non-adult cases in Europe
In Europe, there have been at least six cases of monkeypox in children 17 years of age and younger.
This week, doctors in the Netherlands published a report of a boy seen at a hospital in Amsterdam with about 20 red-brown bumps scattered across his body. It was monkeypox, and the doctors said they couldn’t determine how he got it.
In Africa, monkeypox is more common in children, and doctors have noted higher rates of severe illness and death in young children.
One reason may be that many older adults were vaccinated against smallpox as children, potentially giving them some protection against the related monkeypox virus, Lawler said. Smallpox vaccination was discontinued when the disease was eradicated about 40 years ago.