Officials say children who may have been exposed to monkeypox at Illinois day nursery

State officials announced Friday that a person who works at a daycare in Illinois has tested positive for monkeypox, which could expose children to the virus.

Officials screen children and others who may be exposed to symptoms and give them vaccinations that can prevent infection or reduce the severity of symptoms after exposure. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed potentially exposed children to receive the Jynneos vaccine, which is currently only allowed for adults.

What do you know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments, and prevention

The authorities did not say how many people have been exposed to the virus, which is spread through close contact with an infected person and is not transmitted through the air. State officials said the person also works in a home health care setting and that they have been in contact with the infected customer.

“All available state, state, and federal resources are being deployed to help families,” Samir Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said at a news conference.

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Federal officials have confirmed more than 7,100 cases of monkeypox across the United States, overwhelmingly among gay and bisexual men. At least five children have confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to federal officials. The case of the daycare worker in Illinois has raised concerns among public health authorities who are concerned that the outbreak could spread more widely if not contained.

Monkeypox usually resolves 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 a higher mortality rate in young children, according to the World Health Organization. organisation.

“It’s possible that an infection anywhere is an infection everywhere,” said Ann Rimoen, a UCLA epidemiologist who has studied monkeypox outbreaks. “The more cases we see, the more chance of spread we see — and the more likely these scenarios are.”

While monkeypox infections can last for weeks, Rimoin also stressed that people who were exposed to a daycare worker in Illinois would not necessarily test positive. “Home contacts don’t always catch monkeypox – it’s not as transmissible as coronavirus,” she said.

Global health authorities say that, in the current outbreak, monkeypox is spread primarily through close contact during sex between gay and bisexual men. But they warn that it can spread in other ways that usually involve long-term contact, such as hugs, kissing and dancing without clothes. Possible sources of disease spread in children include prolonged pregnancy, cuddling and feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.

Illinois Governor J.B. 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. US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday later declared a national public health emergency for monkeypox, with Biden officials saying the move would help unlock new funding and authority that could help contain the virus and end the outbreak in the United States.