New information helps assess risk of monkeypox for children, adults

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Friday, August 26, 2022
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While pediatric cases are rare, many parents have questions about how it's spread. Now there's new information to help assess the risk of transmission for adults and children.

Orange County reports its first youth monkeypox case, and with 3 new cases in Georgia, it brings total of reported pediatric monkeypox cases to 13.

While pediatric cases are rare, many parents have questions about how it's spread.

Now, there's new information to help assess the risk of transmission for adults and children.

In the Orange County case, there are few details about the under 18 patient who tested positive for monkeypox. Officials are working to identify close contacts and offer vaccines to those possibly exposed.

Dr. Otto Yang, infectious disease specialist with UCLA Health says it's highly uncommon for kids to get monkeypox.

"It's not nearly as transmissible as measles," Dr. Yang said.

But is the playground or classroom a concern? Using real time data, ABC News medical contributors have identified behaviors and their different levels of risk.

The range looks at behaviors and activities and ranks them in categories as: most risky, risky, less risky and unlikely.

For example, brushing past someone who is positive. That's unlikely to cause infection just as being exposed to water from a swimming pool or hot tub. And what about touching tiny amounts of virus on hard surfaces?

Dr. Yang said, "The smaller amounts that might be on an object from somebody, is that enough in daily practice for the virus to spread efficiently? It seems so far that the answer is no."

What about a long conversation with someone or being in a crowd ? That falls into the "less risky" category. But "risky behavior" includes shaking hands and sharing food, linens and towels with someone who is positive.

"If you were to spread the virus in large amounts onto a sheet for example, and run that sheet onto somebody's skin then absolutely it's more than theoretically possible," explained Dr. Yang.

The riskiest behavior is prolonged skin to skin contact, which includes hugging and kissing.

For adults, the riskiest behavior are sexual encounters with someone who is positive.

The most recent CDC guidelines include limiting the number of sex partners to reduce the likelihood of exposure.

As scientists learn more about the way this virus spreads in real time, risk levels may change, too.