Doctors Urge Calm as Right-Wingers Lie About Kids and Monkeypox

With the monkeypox outbreak in the US spreading unchecked, public health authorities fear that outdated science and bad scapegoat are combining forces to make the Parents fear the threat of epidemics to their children.

Epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, and public health agencies largely agree that the current outbreak appears to pose a low risk to children at this time. But recent figures have forced the virus to cause unfounded panic about LGBT people “groom” children, and as some media and online influencers speculate that monkeypox might thrive in school settings, those guarantees are in danger of being overridden.

Dr David Freedman, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama and expert on tropical diseases, said: disease case. “I just don’t think that silent transport into a school setting is a big risk unless the guidelines are completely ignored.”

The flood of unintentional disinformation and purported disinformation has increased in recent weeks as leading far-right conservatives and conspiracy theorists have caught a number of young cases. children as evidence that gay men are sexually abusing children on a large scale.

“Who is raping children in DC?” Conspiracy activist and failed congressional candidate Laura Loomer wrote on Telegram last week, linked to an article that confirmed a case of infant smallpox in the nation’s capital.

“Is there a law enforcement agency investigating how those two children got monkeypox? Or just, like… nah? ” Michael Knowles, a conservative commentator at The Daily Wire, who has accused teachers of “grooming” children if they do not disclose a child’s sexual orientation to the child’s family, tweeted to deal with another pair of pediatric infections.

Those accusations — part troll, part sequel Decades-long smear campaign against LGBT people — has been supported by other, more significant concerns expressed by parents and health activists who see the monkeypox outbreak as a potential successor potential of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those activists and educators, like geneticist Spencer Wells, who predicted that “this won’t be a fun school year” due to the risk of smallpox in children, have embraced the belief. It has long been known that children—who face a higher risk of complications from monkeypox infection—spread the virus more easily, especially in school settings. Experts told The Daily Beast, the scientific understanding of monkeypox’s transmissibility, methods of transmission and risk for certain populations has changed dramatically in recent years. here, and children may not face as much risk of infection as previously thought.

“European countries that have reported pediatric cases have reported one or two cases and therefore the virus is not,” said Dr Kristina Bryant, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. spread in children. “I really don’t think we need to worry about this virus spreading in schools or daycare facilities.”

Dr Abraar Karan, an infectious disease researcher at Stanford University, says part of that misunderstanding is due to outdated interpretations of data that are nearly half a century old. The current outbreak, Karan said, has forced public health officials to learn decades of knowledge about the virus, among them the previous bias that monkeypox is primarily a disease. limited to children.

“Children will be in close contact – they will touch a lot of surfaces, they will not wash and wipe their hands, they are exposed to termites a lot – while adults are probably more diligent about what they touch, what they put in their mouths, what was on their hands, how often they washed their hands, things like that,” says Karan, explaining the thinking behind a five-year study in the 1980s that showed that nine out of ten of the virus occurs in children under fifteen years of age.

But recent reassessments of that and similar surveys, infectious disease experts told The Daily Beast, indicate that those pediatric cases may not actually demonstrate a risk of contracting the disease. Monkeypox is unique to children.

“It is true that in countries where the virus is circulating, cases have occurred in young children, and we know that children under the age of eight are at higher risk of severe illness. But even in endemic countries, the epidemiology of monkeypox is changing,” said Bryant, who noted that the average age of monkeypox patients has increased slowly over the decades. recent century. “Back in the seventies, the average age was four or five years old — more recently, it was late teens and young adults.”

Many epidemiologists are now coming to the conclusion that the reason monkeypox first appeared to affect only children was the result of another global public health emergency: smallpox. . At the time of the discovery of monkeypox, the world had just ended a global campaign to eradicate smallpox, which saw nearly everyone on the planet vaccinated against the deadly disease. People. Both smallpox and monkeypox are smallpox viruses, which means that the smallpox vaccine also prevents smallpox in monkeys — hence the use of Jynneos vaccine two doses to transplant high-risk individuals against the latter.

“That could be another reason the demographics lean towards younger people, even during other outbreaks,” says Karan. “There was essentially a vulnerable population right after we stopped widespread smallpox vaccination, so it was a matter of time before this happened.”

Experts suggest that apparent shift in monkeypox epidemiology, means public concern about its spread in daycare or daycare settings — whether spread by those anti-gay conspiracy theorists or worried parents misread the current science about the disease — possibly overblown.

“There’s something we still don’t grasp or understand about this outbreak,” said Karan, saying that while most viruses cause smallpox, the family of viruses includes smallpox and smallpox. monkey season, which is more prevalent among children than adults, the current outbreak does not exhibit the same characteristics.

“The smallpox virus doesn’t mutate that quickly, and some studies have shown that some strains that are popping up around have mutated more than expected,” Karan said. “I think in regards to epidemiology and transmission, we’re still learning a little bit about what’s going on.”

Infectious disease experts know better than most the risks of making authoritative statements about unprecedented virus outbreaks, and are still awaiting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. science-based treatment of childhood cases. But even without such guidance, Bryant said, parents and educators might actually be better positioned than most to identify cases early, given that monkeypox is similar to monkeypox. common diseases in children.

“Children get a variety of contagious rashes that are much more common than monkeypox, so schools and daycares have procedures in place to keep sick kids at home and away from other children,” says Bryant. another child. “Those protocols work very well.”

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