Monkeypox: Most US cases linked to travel, but CDC monitoring for community transmission

Researchers discovered there are two different monkeypox variants circulating.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than 700 cases of monkeypox are now under investigation globally.

In the U.S., cases identified have doubled in the past week and officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have since briefed the nation on the latest developments.

Officials are reporting 20 domestic cases across 11 states with four in California and one presumptive case identified so far in Los Angeles County.

Most of the 20 U.S. patients believed to be infected with monkeypox reported being men who have sex with men.

Most have traveled internationally in the past 21 days.

Meanwhile, the CDC wants to raise awareness in LGBTQ+ communities, but researchers emphasize this is not a "gay disease."

"Anyone can get monkeypox and we are carefully monitoring for monkeypox that may be spreading in any population, including those who are not identifying as men who have sex with men," said Capt. Jennifer McQuiston with the CDC's Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology.

Officials said the threat to the public remains low and no one has died from monkeypox and all the patients are recovering.

Yet, scientists say the disease should not be taken lightly.

"It can be really painful and some patients have reported needing prescription pain medicine to manage that pain. The sores can also cause long term scarring on the skin," said McQuiston.

The main risk factor for getting monkeypox is close contact with someone who already has it.

Patients with sores are being advised to quarantine until the scabs have healed.

Scientists note, at first, many of the rashes may not look large or raised.

"I do think that especially in an early presentation, it can be confusing to know what this might be," she said.

Researchers discovered there are two different monkeypox variants circulating.

The one we are seeing in Europe and the U.S. is a milder strain.

When asked whether monkeypox has already spread past the point of containment, officials said teams are working "very hard to contain" it.

"I think it's too early to know whether monkeypox can become endemic, but I think it's important to keep in mind that monkeypox has been endemic in several countries for decades," McQuiston said.

The CDC said between vaccine manufacturers and the national stockpile, the U.S. has enough vaccines and treatments to cover this current outbreak.

So far about 1,200 vaccines and 100 rounds of therapeutics have been delivered to various states.

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