The monkeypox virus is unlikely to be eliminated from the United States in the near future, according to a report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC, in a technical report, said the outbreak is slowing as vaccine availability has increased, people have become more aware of how to avoid infection, and immunity has likely increased among gay and bisexual men. , the group most affected by the virus. .
But low-level transmission of the virus could continue indefinitely among men who have sex with other men, the report said. The CDC said it does not have a projection of how many total people could be infected by the virus.
The Biden administration declared a public health emergency in August in an effort to increase vaccines, testing, treatment and community outreach in an effort to eradicate the virus from the United States.
The United States is trying to contain the world’s largest smallpox outbreak, with nearly 26,000 cases reported in all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, according to CDC data. At least two people have died from the disease in the US, according to the data.
The global outbreak of monkeypox, the largest in history, is highly unusual because the virus is circulating widely in countries where it is not normally found. Historically, monkeypox has circulated in remote parts of West and Central Africa. In this context, people usually caught the virus from animals. There was little dispersion among the people.
Monkey pox is now spreading widely between people, mostly through close contact during sex between gay and bisexual men. The disease is rarely fatal, but patients develop blister-like lesions in sensitive areas that are extremely painful. In some cases, the pain is so great that people require hospitalization, and in rare cases, people with weak immune systems have died.
The CDC, in its report, said the virus is still spreading primarily among men who have sex with men. But anyone can catch the virus through close contact with someone infected or with contaminated materials. Health authorities have confirmed 29 cases of children infected with the virus so far, and a total of 78 pediatric cases are under investigation as of the end of September.
Although 96% of patients are men, 408 women have contracted the virus so far in the U.S. Four pregnant women and one who was breastfeeding have contracted monkeypox.
The CDC said the percentage of patients who identify as gay or bisexual men has declined over time, with 75 percent of those who provided a recent sexual history reporting contact between men.
But a large number of cases lack data on sexual history, and more than 90 percent of infections occur among men, according to the CDC. According to the public health agency, the decrease in the percentage of cases reporting sexual contact between men is likely due to a lack of data rather than a change in the way the virus is spreading.
The CDC said the outbreak will likely remain concentrated among men who have sex with men over the long term, and infections will continue to decline over the coming weeks and decline significantly over the coming months.
To date, more than 684,000 people have received the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine. Earlier this week, the CDC reported preliminary data indicating that the vaccine provides at least some protection against infection. The vaccination campaign mainly focuses on gay and bisexual men.
The outbreak could begin to accelerate again if the virus begins to spread widely among the US population through heterosexual networks or contacts that do not involve sex, according to the CDC. But no country in the current global outbreak has found clear evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC.
The public health agency also warned that the virus could spread more quickly between people again if it becomes established in an animal population in the US. The CDC said it is unknown which animals in North America are most susceptible to the infection.
In Africa, the virus spread mainly from animals to people. If monkeypox becomes established in animals in the US, it would be very difficult to eradicate.