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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services released new information Friday on their preventative measures for monkeypox, and how they’re tracking the current cases of the disease in the U.S.
According to the CDC, there have been at least 700 cases of monkeypox globally. There have been at least 20 total cases in the U.S. and 11 active cases as of Friday.
Symptoms typically begin with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. Within one to three days or sometimes longer, the patient will develop a rash.
Jennifer McQuiston with the CDC says there have been no reports of deaths from monkeypox, but the symptoms and possible long-term scarring can still take a toll.
“Right now there have been no deaths, that being said we don’t want to minimize this,” McQuiston said. “There have been cases where the rash caused by monkeypox has spread widely across the body in sensitive areas like the genitalia. It can be very painful and some patients said they’ve needed prescription pain medication to treat the pain.”
The CDC also mentioned that when comparing monkeypox to smallpox, there are minor differences. Monkeypox causes the lymph nodes to swell while smallpox does not.
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Still, vaccines for smallpox are being used to treat some cases of monkeypox. Dawn O’Connell with the Department of Health and Human Services says there are enough vaccines to handle the current outbreak.
“We have also supported the second vaccine available which is approved for smallpox but can be used for monkeypox under a CDC new drug proposal,” O’Connell said. “We have deployed both vaccines in this new outbreak.”
Dr. Raj Punjabi, an epidemiologist with the White House, says testing, tracing and timely vaccines are key to preventing the spread of monkeypox.
He also says they are leading with an empathy, equity and science-based approach while learning more about the disease.
While the number of new cases in the U.S. is low, the CDC is using contact tracing to get more intel on exactly how the monkeypox is spread to prevent more cases.