CDC Health Alert Warns About Deadly, Fast-Spreading Monkeypox Variant

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert this week warning clinicians and health departments nationwide about the emergence and spread of a deadly monkeypox variant.

The strain known as Clade I was reported by health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has spread to 22 of the DRC’s 26 provinces.

TGP reports: This health advisory, part of the CDC’s Health Alert Network (HAN), underscores the necessity for heightened vigilance, particularly among travelers returning from the DRC. Clade I, distinguished as a distinct genetic grouping of the monkeypox virus, has not been reported in the United States to date, according to the health alert.

There is currently an outbreak of deadly monkeypox in 22 out of 26 provinces, including urban areas in Congo.

However, the possibility of its appearance in travelers necessitates increased awareness and diagnostic readiness among healthcare professionals.

Symptoms of Clade I mpox resemble those of other forms of the virus, including a widespread rash and lymphadenopathy. Clinicians are urged to promptly notify state health departments upon encountering patients exhibiting these symptoms, particularly those with recent travel history to the DRC.

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The CDC also emphasizes the importance of lesion specimen submissions for clade-specific testing in such cases.

Though vaccine coverage in the U.S. is low, the CDC reasserts that vaccines such as JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are expected to be effective against both Clade I and Clade II MPXV infections. Medical experts are urged to recommend vaccination for all eligible patients.

In a separate travel advisory, the CDC has strongly advised travelers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to exercise heightened caution. Key recommendations include avoiding contact with individuals who are ill, maintaining a distance from wild animals, and refraining from consuming or handling game meat.

New York Post reported:

A deadly, fast-spreading strain of the monkeypox virus has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on high alert.

The variant of the virus, which causes the severe disease known as mpox, kills up to 10% of the people who are infected, according to the World Health Organization.

“The virus variant is known to be more virulent. If it adapts better to human-to-human transmission, that presents a risk,” Rosamund Lewis of the WHO’s mpox surveillance team told Reuters.

Last year, a less-deadly variant of the monkeypox virus known as Clade II spread worldwide (a clade is a genetic subtype of virus). More than 31,000 Americans were diagnosed with mpox during last year’s outbreak, and 55 died.

Niamh Harris
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