Children potentially exposed to monkeypox at Illinois daycare, officials say

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A person who works at an Illinois daycare center has tested positive for monkeypox and potentially exposed children, who are at higher risk of serious consequences from the virus, state officials said Friday.

Authorities are screening children and others potentially exposed to symptoms, and the Food and Drug Administration is allowing children to receive the The Jynneos vaccine, which is only authorized for adults. The vaccine can prevent infection or reduce the severity of symptoms after exposure.

What to know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments and protection

Authorities said no one else had tested positive. Illinois health officials determined that between 40 and 50 people, many of them children, were potentially exposed directly to the child care worker or to objects handled by the person, officials said.

“We’re casting a wide net,” Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde wrote in a text message Friday night. Pryde said several dozen children had been offered vaccines, pending approval from their guardians.

Officials from the new team of monkeypox coordinators from the White House, FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned of the daycare worker’s infection early Friday afternoon and have been working to expedite the shipment of vaccines to those potentially exposed. One official estimated that the paperwork needed to allow children to receive the vaccines was completed within an hour, noting that the sooner a vaccine is given after exposure, the more likely it is to prevent infection.

Local officials also credited the federal response, which has been scrutinized in recent weeks by doctors and patients who have complained of unnecessary bureaucracy when trying to access treatments, tests and vaccines. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, on Friday praised federal regulators for allowing early vaccination of exposed children with parental approval and “without jumping through normal hoops in this process.” .

The virus spreads through close contact with an infected person and is not airborne. State officials said the child care worker is also employed at a home care facility and they were in contact with the affected client.

Federal authorities have confirmed more than 7,500 cases of monkeypox across the United States, overwhelmingly in gay and bisexual men. Federal officials say at least five children have confirmed cases of monkeypox believed to be the result of family transmission.

Illinois daycare worker’s case escalated concerns from public health authorities that fear the outbreak will circulate more widely and affect more vulnerable populations with severe consequences – including children – if not contained, particularly as students return to schools and college campuses this fall.

Monkeypox illnesses usually clear up after a few weeks, and there are no known deaths in the United States. But for children and people with weakened immune systems, the disease can lead to serious medical complications and has had a higher death rate among young children in past outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.

Ask the Post: What are your questions about monkeypox?

Public health officials are trying to send a nuanced message that sexually active gay men are at greatest risk of contracting monkeypox, as it is currently spread through close contact, often skin-to-skin, primarily among men with sex with men. But, officials warn, viruses don’t always stay in one demographic and can infect anyone.

“An infection anywhere is potentially an infection everywhere,” said Anne Rimoin, a UCLA epidemiologist who studied the monkeypox outbreak and praised authorities’ efforts to quickly make vaccines available to those exposed. in Illinois. “The more cases we see, the more possibilities we see for spread – and the more likely those scenarios are to exist.”

While monkeypox infections can incubate for weeks, Rimoin also pointed out that people exposed to the daycare worker in Illinois would not necessarily test positive. “Household contacts don’t always catch monkeypox – it’s not as transmissible as the coronavirus,” she said.

CDC recommends fewer sexual partners to reduce exposure to monkeypox

Although monkeypox in the current outbreak is primarily spread through close contact during sex between gay and bisexual men, global health authorities warn that it can spread in other ways that usually involve prolonged contact, such as cuddling, kissing and dancing without clothes on. Potential sources of spread to children include prolonged clothing, cuddling, and feeding, as well as shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.

Last week, the CDC sent out a health notice to clinicians warning them to be on the lookout for symptoms of the virus among other vulnerable populations, including children and adolescents. To prevent the spread of the virus between children and caregivers or household members, officials recommend avoiding contact with infected people and their clothing, towels and bedding.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Monday, saying the move would improve coordination among state agencies and speed up Illinois’ response to the virus. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra later declared a national public health emergency for monkeypox on Thursday, with Biden administration officials saying the move would unlock new funding and authority that could help contain the virus and end the US outbreak.

In the Illinois case, the daycare worker with monkeypox is isolated and in good condition, officials said. Families of potentially exposed children have been offered mobile testing and financial assistance to self-isolate if needed, authorities said.

“Anyone who has the slightest suspicion, we’ll put them in solitary confinement pending any type of outcome,” Pryde said.

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