An infectious disease physician at Boston Children’s Hospital is urging parents and guardians to be aware of monkeypox transmission in their communities to manage the risks to their children.
dr. John Brownstein, the hospital’s chief innovation officer and professor at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News on Tuesday that data on children and monkeypox in the United States is very limited.
“We have four cases in this country, so the risk is low,” Brownstein said. “But you do have household transmission. So we will see more children with this virus.”
The virus is usually spread through prolonged contact with the rash, often through direct skin-to-skin contact. But it can also be spread through a secondary surface, such as shared clothing, bedding, or towels.
Less commonly, the disease can spread through droplets of air, according to the health ministry, but not through short conversations or interactions with someone who has tested positive.
Brownstein said data from other countries suggests that children under the age of 8 “can cope with the serious effects of this virus”.
“That could be airway obstruction, corneal scarring, pneumonia, sepsis, and remember, there’s no approved vaccine for our kids,” the doctor said. “So we should be concerned. So people who are concerned about their children obviously need to know what is happening in their community, especially if there are more cases.”
As of Thursday, there have been 115 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts, according to the Department of Health. The monkeypox vaccine is offered by 13 different health care providers in the state to eligible individuals. So far, 4,303 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts.
Brownstein emphasized in his appearance on ABC News that monkey pox is spread through very close contacts.
“So ultimately, kids aren’t going to be the real risk category compared to their adult counterparts,” Brownstein said.
Symptoms of monkey pox can include fever, headache, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes, but the defining feature is a rash that fills with clear fluid.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who thinks they have the virus to wear a mask, cover up any rash or lesions around others, and contact a health care provider. To learn more about monkeypox and how it spreads, visit www.mass.gov/monkeypox and www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.
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