CDC raises monkeypox alert level, reverses position on masks

The agency removed its prior masking recommendation to avoid 'confusion' about the disease, for which 35 cases have been reported in the U.S.


The U.S. Fire Administration issued recommended responses to suspected monkeypox infections in May.

UPDATE: 4:48 p.m. CT June 8, 2022:

Leada Gore
al.com

ATLANTA — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer recommending travelers wear masks to prevent the spread of monkeypox.

This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox patient with the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage.
This 1997 image provided by the CDC during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo depicts the dorsal surfaces of the hands of a monkeypox patient with the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. (File photo/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Associated Press)

On Tuesday, the health agency released guidance on several measures – including masking in some situations - designed to prevent the spread of the virus, which is seeing an outbreak in several parts of the world.

Later in the day, however, the CDC removed the masking recommendation to avoid “confusion” about the disease, Reuters reported.

“CDC removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox Travel Health Notice because it caused confusion,” a CDC spokesperson told Reuters.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with an infected person via sores, scabs or bodily fluids. It can also, according to the CDC, be “spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact”.

The Health Alert related to monkeypox remains elevated to Level 2 representing an “Alert” for “Practice Enhanced Precautions.” As of Wednesday, 35 cases have been reported in the U.S.

Monkeypox is a rare disease first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys used for research. The first human case was reported in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, since then, it has mainly been found in central and western African countries. Most of the cases outside Africa have been linked to international travel or imported animals.

Monkeypox does not occur naturally in the United States, but cases have happened that were associated with international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common.

Officials with the World Health Organization said the current rare outbreak is likely a “random event” linked to sexual behavior at two rave parties held in Spain and Belgium.

The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox, typically starting with a fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. The main difference between the symptoms of smallpox and monkeypox is that monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell while smallpox does not. The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days.

The illness begins with:

•Fever

•Headache

•Muscle aches

•Backache

•Swollen lymph nodes

•Chills

•Exhaustion

Within one to three days after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. Lesions go through several stages before scabbing over and falling off.

The illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks. In Africa, monkeypox has been shown to cause death in as many as 10% of those who contract the disease.

Original article: 

Leada Gore
al.com

ATLANTA — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the alert level for monkeypox, recommending people wear masks when traveling and practice other safety precautions.

Previously, the CDC advisory related to monkeypox was Level 1, or the “Watch Level,” for “Practice Usual Precautions” when traveling. Level 2 is an “Alert” level for “Practice Enhanced Precautions.”

While saying the risk to the general public is low, the CDC recommended:

  • Avoiding close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions.
  • Avoiding contact with dead or live wild animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and nonhuman primates (monkeys, apes).
  • Avoiding eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders).
  • Avoiding contact with contaminated materials used by sick people (such as clothing, bedding, or materials used in healthcare settings) or that came into contact with infected animals.

The CDC also recommends people wear masks while traveling, particularly in areas experiencing outbreaks.

People are advised to seek medical care immediately if they develop new, unexplained skin rashes, with or without fever or chills, especially if you’ve come into contact with a person who has monkeypox, are a man who has intimate contact, including sex, with other men or are in an area where monkeypox is currently reported.

“Cases of monkeypox have been reported in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia,” the CDC said in its alert. “Some cases were reported among men who have sex with men. Some cases were also reported in people who live in the same household as an infected person.”

More than 1,000 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in countries. As of Tuesday, 31 cases have been reported in the U.S. in 13 states.


Previous reporting

Previous reporting

CDC monitoring potential monkeypox cases in U.S.

Officials are considering whether a vaccine should be offered to healthcare workers who treat patients with monkeypox

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