NEW YORK (AP) — Some U.S. health officials admit that monkeypox is unlikely to go away any time soon.
The spread of the disease is slowing, but the virus is so widespread that elimination is unlikely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. This finding was in a recent CDC report, and taken up on Friday by Marc Lipsitch, scientific director of the agency’s disease prediction center.
Lipsitch was hesitant to say monkeypox is here to stay forever, but said it will be an ongoing threat for the next few years.
“It’s in many geographic locations across the country” as well as other countries, Lipsitch told The Associated Press. “There is no clear path in our mind to complete elimination domestically.”
The virus has mainly spread among gay and bisexual men, although health officials continue to stress that anyone can be infected. It’s important that those at risk take steps to prevent the spread and that vaccination efforts continue, Lipsitch said.
The CDC report contained good news: the US outbreak appears to have peaked in early August. The average number of daily cases reported – less than 150 – is about a third of what was reported in mid-summer, and officials expect the decline to continue for at least the next few months. next weeks.
Lipsitch attributed the good news to increased vaccinations, cautious behavior by those at risk, and infection-derived immunity in populations most at risk.
Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agreed that the spread of monkeypox is unlikely to stop in the United States anytime soon, but he said it was still possible in the long term. .
If national transmission was stopped, infections could continue if people catch the virus while traveling internationally, he said. But the drop in cases gives the impression that “we have taken a real turn”.
“Ongoing efforts are bearing fruit and must be continued and even intensified,” he said.
With the number of cases falling, now is a good time for local health departments to again attempt intensive contact tracing to try and stop the chains of transmission, he said.
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected by the bites of rodents or small animals, but it was not considered a disease that spread easily among humans until May, when infections have appeared in Europe and the United States.
There have been over 67,000 cases reported in countries that have never seen monkeypox. The United States has the most infections of any country – more than 25,600. One death in the United States has been attributed to monkeypox.
Over 97% of US cases are male. The vast majority were men who said they had recently had sexual contact with other men.
Although cases have fallen, the proportion of new cases with information about recent sexual contact is also falling, officials said. This causes a growing blind spot on how the virus can spread, Lipsitch noted.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.