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US health experts say monkeypox cases harder to detect

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) health experts said recently cases of monkeypox that are being detected at the moment do not necessarily display the usual symptoms, making the disease more difficult to diagnose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stressed that identifying cases was crucial to curbing the spread of the disease.

“We have seen presentations of monkeypox that are mild and sometimes only limited areas of the body, which differs from the classic presentation seen in endemic countries in Western Central Africa,” said head of the CDC Rochelle Walensky.

“This prompted concern that some cases may go unrecognised or undiagnosed,” she added, urging increased vigilance among members of the medical profession and the public in general.

Current cases do not always present flu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches and swollen glands that typically precede the appearance of the rash characteristic of the disease.

A health worker screens a passenger arriving from abroad for symptoms of Monkeypox at Anna International Airport terminal in Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state. PHOTO: AFP

Additionally, while these rashes typically appear all over the body, many current cases are limited to certain areas.

“It’s important to be aware that monkeypox cases may present similar to some sexually transmitted infections,” such as herpes, “and could be mistaken for other diagnoses”,
Walensky said.

The US has now recorded 65 cases, she added, twice as many as last week.

No deaths have been reported.

As of June 14, around 1,500 cases had been identified worldwide, she said.

Transmission requires close and prolonged contact between two people.

The US is counting in particular on the vaccination of contact cases to stem the epidemic.

The country has 100 million doses of the vaccine ACAM2000, but is in the process of getting doses of another more modern vaccine, Jynneos, she said.

At the end of May, the US had only 1,000 doses of the newer drug, compared to 72,000 today, said Dawn O’Connell of the Department of Health. Another 300,000 doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, she added.