Dr Scott Gottlieb said the increasing cases of monkeypox showed it was spreading ‘quite widely’
The growing number of monkeypox cases in the US and Europe suggests the virus has spread widely throughout communities, but it will not cause a major outbreak like Covid. Pfizer Board member and former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday.
“Now that there’s community spread, it can be very difficult to completely eliminate this. I don’t think it’s going to be a pandemic because it’s a very difficult virus to spread,” Gottlieb said. “Squawk Box.”
Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, eventually progressing to a rash on the body and face. Monkeypox is spread by open contact with the sores of an infected person and has a long incubation period of 21 days or more, Gottlieb said. This means many people may be incubating, he said, as infected patients may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Gottlieb’s comment came two days later US health officials confirm a virus cases in a man from Massachusetts who recently traveled to Canada. The New York City Department of Health said Thursday it is investigating a possible case in a man being treated at NYC Health+’s Bellevue Hospital.
Monkeypox, which recurred in Nigeria in 2017, has spread in several countries over the past few weeks, prompting health officials to try to alert clinicians and the public to the virus.
Gottlieb added that there have been numerous cases of disconnections, suggesting that the contagion in the community is “quite wide”. He said there may be more cases of the infection than health officials have detected because it has such a long incubation period and doctors still don’t know how to find it.
But he said the US may only see a level of spread so low that it is “hard to contain” because it can be difficult to implement public health measures, such as mass vaccination with the virus vaccine. – Vaccination.
He noted that the virus is endemic in several countries, with the Democratic Republic of Congo reporting between 5 and 10,000 cases a year.
“That’s worrying, not a widespread epidemic here at this point. But this low-level persistence is just low-level persistence, cases popping up here and there, outbreaks,” Gottlieb said.
However, he stressed the virus can still be dangerous. According to Gottlieb, the fatality rate in cases from the spreading strain is between 1% and 4%. He describes it as a “neutralized” virus that can persist for two to four months, causing fever and sores.
The CDC on Wednesday urged doctors to identify patients with a rash consistent with monkeypox. People suspected of having the virus should be isolated in a negative pressure room – a space used to isolate patients – and staff should wear appropriate personal protective equipment around them, according to the agency.
Disclosure: Dr Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and board member of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, healthcare technology company Aetion and biotech company Illumination. He is also the co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ and Royal Caribbean“The Healthy Sail Dashboard.”