Monkeypox and Children: What to Know About Tests, Symptoms, Treatments and More

What monkey pox continues to spread across the US, the number of children infected with the virus is also growing.

At least five children have tested positive for monkeypox since July, including two each. in indiana and California.

The other case was reported in an infant, a non-US resident, who was tested while traveling through Washington, DC, federal officials confirmed last month.

Children under the age of 8 are among those for whom the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers an “increased risk” of developing a more serious disease if you are infected with monkeypox, along with pregnant people, immunocompromised people and those with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema.

Here, experts answer seven questions parents may have about monkeypox and how it can affect children, as cases overall in the US continue to rise.

1. As a parent, how concerned should I be about monkeypox?

At this point in the outbreak, parents “don’t need to panic” about the virus, according to ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who is also a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist.

“They should be aware of what’s going on with this, as they are with any medical incumbent,” Ashton added. “They should know what’s going on in their community and should take appropriate action after discussing any concerns with their pediatrician.”

2. How is monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox, also known as MPX, is spread primarily through direct skin-to-skin contact between someone who has the virus and someone who doesn’t, according to Dr Richard MalleySenior Physician in Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

“That could be through intimate contact,” Malley said. “It could also be from simple contact with someone in the family who has an unsuspected injury and the injury unfortunately affects someone else.”

Shared items like towels, clothes or sheets could also spread the virus if used by someone with a monkeypox lesion, according to Malley.

“If someone is infected with MPX, they really need to be very careful who they interact with and how they interact with other people to try to prevent the spread as much as possible,” he said.

According to the CDC, monkeypox can also spread through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person and prolonged face-to-face contact.

“So far, it doesn’t appear to be the main mode of transmission for this virus in the current epidemic,” Malley said. “But that is, of course, one of the things that we need to monitor very closely.”

3. Does my family need to clean surfaces or avoid shared spaces like playgrounds?

Because monkeypox is spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact, parents at this time don’t need to worry too much about their child becoming infected by touching things like doorknobs in public spaces or shared toys. according to Malley and Ashton.

“While that possibility remains, I think it doesn’t mean that parents or anyone else should worry about touching doorknobs or going to the grocery store or touching objects that are on the street, for example,” Malley said. “That’s not thought to be a very likely way for MPX to spread, or for most viruses to spread.”

Ashton said that people who live in areas of high monkeypox transmission may want to wipe down surfaces as an extra precaution, noting “it’s possible that this virus could get on gym equipment as well as clothing. “.

However, he added that washing hands is more important than cleaning surfaces to prevent the spread of disease.

“Hand hygiene is top of mind, not just for monkeypox but for any infectious disease,” Ashton said.

4. How can I tell if my child has monkeypox?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of monkeypox can resemble other viruses, including the flu and other rashes, so experts recommend seeking medical attention as soon as symptoms appear, especially if your child has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.

The illness usually begins with a fever, headache, fatigue, chills, and muscle aches. Unlike smallpox, however, monkeypox also causes swollen lymph nodes.

Within one to three days of initial symptoms, those infected will usually develop a rash on the face or other parts of the body, according to the CDC.

According to the World Health Organization, the lesions, or rash, begin as dark spots on the skin before progressing to bumps that fill with fluid.

Malley said parents should seek medical attention for any type of rash on their child’s body that doesn’t look like something they’ve had before.

“The MPX flare, as we’re now learning, can look very different in different individuals for reasons we don’t fully understand,” Malley said. “You really have to be careful around anything that might look like an MPX flare.”

Monkeypox is diagnosed by analyzing the lesions to identify if the genetic material of the virus is present, according to Malley.

5. Why are children at higher risk of getting monkeypox?

Experts aren’t sure, Malley said.

It may be due to their immune systems and the fact that “younger children are sometimes more susceptible to some viral infections,” he explained.

According to Malley, in Africa, where monkeypox originated, the most severe but rare cases of the virus usually involve inflammation of the brain.

Ashton said that while there have been no deaths associated with monkeypox in the US so far, it’s important to remain vigilant as the disease spreads.

“As the numbers go up, based on pure math, it’s not impossible that we’re going to see a death here in the US,” Ashton said, adding that monkeypox has a “gravity spectrum” when it occurs. deals with complications. “There have been deaths in Africa associated with monkeypox.”

6. Is there a monkeypox vaccine for children?

The current monkeypox vaccine is available for people over 18 years of age. However, the JYNNEOS vaccine may be offered on a case-by-case basis through a special authorization process through the US Food and Drug Administration for those with known exposure to monkeypox.

Antiviral drugs like Tecovirimat are currently being used for the treatment of monkeypox, which is available for children.

According to Malley, more common treatments can also be used to help treat patients experiencing pain due to monkeypox lesions.

7. What is the best way to protect my child from monkeypox?

According to Malley, the best thing parents can do for themselves and their children is to pay attention to the virus, but try not to panic.

“I think it would be very unlikely that a daycare center or a camp or a school would be a major source of transmission of this virus as we currently understand it,” he said. “But of course it’s important that we all stay vigilant.”

Malley said the key for parents concerned about monkeypox is to be aware of their children’s surroundings and not interact with people they know have been infected with monkeypox.

“The importance for parents is that if they know someone in their environment, in their environment, in their family who is suspected of being infected with MPX, then of course that individual needs to isolate,” he said. “In general, people who have been diagnosed with MPX have been told and are being very careful because they don’t want to be responsible for transmission.”

the CDC has published safety guidelines for people with monkeypoxurging those infected with the virus to “remain isolated at home or elsewhere for the duration of the illness”.

According to Malley, monkeypox lesions are considered infectious until they completely scab over.

Arielle Mitropoulos and Cheyenne Haslett of ABC News contributed to this report.

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