A fifth child is presumed to have monkeypox in the United States since the country’s first two pediatric cases were reported in July.
California health officials announced the latest presumptive pediatric monkeypox case in a Long Beach child on Tuesday, four days after Indiana health officials confirmed that two children in that state also tested positive.
Last month, another California toddler tested positive for monkeypox as well as an infant resident of a foreign country who was passing through Washington D.C., bringing the total U.S. pediatric cases to five.
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is carrying out a contact tracing investigation and told The Epoch Times it had no further information about those efforts since Tuesday.
“Preliminary test results indicate that the child has tested positive for orthopoxvirus,” the Long Beach DHHS said in a statement. “Additional testing will be performed at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to confirm monkeypox.”
The child was symptomatic and is now recovered, according to the Californian department, which said, in light of the pediatric diagnosis, that monkeypox can also be spread by “holding and feeding.”
“This is a reminder that everyone, regardless of age or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if they come into contact with the virus,” Long Beach DHHS said.
Pediatric Cases in Indiana
The new pediatric case in California comes days after the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) reported two pediatric cases among its total of 45 new cases confirmed between June 18 and July 28.
IDOH said it won’t release additional information about the cases due to patient privacy.
“Like many other states, Indiana has seen an increase in monkeypox cases over the past month,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said in a statement.
“Monkeypox does not easily spread through brief casual contact, but it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected if they are a close contact of a positive case.”
She encouraged residents who think they’ve been exposed or who develop symptoms to contact a healthcare provider.
In guidance, the CDC has said that children with exposure to people with monkeypox may be eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with vaccination, immune globulin, or antiviral medication.
PEP is commonly known for its use as an emergency antiviral medication to prevent HIV infection and is taken largely by gay and bisexual men. However, the first-line treatment for children is the antiviral Tecovirimat, commonly used for smallpox.
In the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox has primarily been spreading through the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men but it is not typically considered by health officials to be a sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have said the virus can also spread through contaminated bedding and clothing.
With the fifth child now contracting monkeypox, presumably within a household, Long Beach DHHS has named other household items that could spread the virus, such as cups, towels, and utensils.
For this reason, the department has said that people with monkeypox should avoid contact with household members and follow the CDC’s guidance for limiting transmission in the home.
“With children, people are advised to minimize the number of caregivers and limit interaction between siblings, including sharing toys, clothing, linens and bedding. It is also important for the infected person to limit interactions with pets in the home,” Long Beach DHHS said.
The CDC has provided extensive guidance on household infection control to inform people with monkeypox around how to isolate, including not engaging in “sexual activity that involves direct physical contact.”
Much like with COVID-19, people with monkeypox should isolate away from other household members, and clean shared spaces appropriately until such as time when any “rash has fully resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.”
Spread Beyond LGBT Community
The rise to five pediatric cases comes after a senior WHO official warned that monkeypox would likely spread beyond the LGBT population.
Dr. Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the WHO, told CNBC in July that “we should not expect” monkeypox to remain only within the demographic of “men who have sex with men.”
Experts and health officials are still coming to grips with monkeypox’s evolution from an endemic disease limited mostly to Africa, where it is spread by animals, to the current vector of the 2022 outbreak, which is spread primarily via the sexual activity of gay and bisexual men, according to a major peer-reviewed study.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said health officials needed to come to a better scientific understanding of the current monkeypox outbreak.
He also said swift interventions and outreach to the LGBT community, which is most at risk from the virus, was “absolutely” needed to combat the virus.
Monkeypox case numbers in the United States are currently over 5,800 since the first case emerged in May. Last month, the WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health “emergency.”
DeSantis Criticizes ‘Emergency’ Declarations
California, Illinois, and New York have declared states of emergency in response to the outbreak.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state has the fifth highest number of monkeypox cases as of Aug. 4, has said he will not follow suit.
The Republican governor accused other elected officials of driving a scare campaign.
“Do not listen to their nonsense … I’m so sick of politicians, and we saw this with COVID, trying to sow fear into the population,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Florida will not be dictating our health policies out of fear – we are focused on the facts. pic.twitter.com/GATB0Op3Y5
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) August 3, 2022
He added: “We’re not going to go back to like Fauci in the 80s where he was trying to tell families they were all going to catch AIDs watching TV together.”
DeSantis said that Florida’s response to monkeypox won’t include a “fear” campaign to “rile people up and try to act like people can’t live their lives as they’ve been normally doing.”
“You see some of these states declaring states of emergency. They’re gong to abuse those emergency powers to try to restrict your freedom. I guarantee you that’s what will happen. We saw it with COVID,” he added.
CORRECTION: The infection in California was incorrectly attributed to an infant and the infection in D.C. a toddler. The Epoch Times regrets the error.