Updated Jul 23, 2022 - Health

CDC confirms first U.S. cases of monkeypox in children

Photo of a gloved hand holding a vial monkeypox vaccine
A nurse prepares the monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors, Florida on July 19, 2022. Photo: Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. has confirmed the first two cases of monkeypox in children, Centers for Disease Control Prevention and Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday.

Why it matters: The CDC has said children, especially those under 8 years old, are among those at "especially increased risk" for severe monkeypox disease.

What she's saying: "Both of those children are traced back to individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men's community," Walensky said at a virtual event with the Washington Post on Friday.

  • Both children "are doing well," she added.
  • In a statement, the CDC said the cases are unrelated to one another, and that both are "likely the result of household transmission."

The big picture: Men who have sex with other men remain the most vulnerable to monkeypox, but in some countries that saw outbreaks before 2022, young children died at higher rates from the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Sexual contact is also not the only way the disease can be spread.

  • Epidemiologists have warned that the risk isn't limited to any one community and that "somebody who is not gay can get it just as easily as someone who is gay."
  • As of Thursday, the CDC had tallied a total of 2,593 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. 
  • WHO officials have also raised the alarm that the outbreak "poses a real risk" to public health.

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