According to a paediatric infectious disease doctor who spoke to Fortune after Illinois state officials disclosed Friday that a daycare worker had been diagnosed with the smallpox-related virus, it’s “just a matter of time” before monkeypox makes its way into communal settings.
Dr Alexandra Brugler Yonts, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., says that “there is absolutely the possibility for the transmission of monkeypox” in daycares, schools, college campuses, jails, and other comparable settings. Smallpox vaccination for monkeypox, Jynneos, was licenced for use by the FDA, and it was the safer of the two.
When people are in various stages of undress and proximity to each other, “there is a risk,” she noted.
No further cases have been found at the daycare centre in Champaign County, Illinois, and Gov. J. B. Pritzker has been in contact with the White House about the matter, state health officials said Friday.
Brugler Yonts, on the other hand, believes that schools and communal living spaces aren’t the only places where the virus might spread. Pools and water parks—”not through the water, but through coming up against someone with active lesions—especially in the summer, given the heat and inclination for minimising clothing”—are also on her list of places where transmission could occur.
She also spoke about the dangers of contact sports like football and wrestling.
However, when more people travel, participate in [the aforementioned] activities, and then return to school, epidemics may be more challenging to contain.” This will likely become more widely used, in my opinion. Many states across America have already seen cases of this disease.”
A total of 7,510 cases have been identified in the United States as of Friday, with the majority of those occurring in New York City, California, and Florida, according to data from the CDC. Cases were found in every state except Wyoming and Montana.
The CDC estimates that more than 28,000 cases have been documented worldwide since January, almost exclusively in areas where monkeypox is not considered an endemic problem. Following the United States, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Brazil are the countries with the highest number of identified cases. Only 345 cases have been reported in endemic countries in Africa since January. At the end of July, the WHO reported that 81 children had been affected.
In a statement on Friday, Illinois health officials said the FDA had approved the use of Jynneos, licenced for use in adults 18 and older, for youngsters at the centre “without jumping through typical hoops.” Mobile testing and vaccination services were available during the event, they stated further.
“Single patient extended access experimental new medication application” for each child was filed to the FDA on Friday, a representative for the agency told Fortune in an email. If “no similar or adequate alternative options are available,” and if “the advantages outweigh the probable [sic] risk,” applications are expedited and accepted “as promptly as practicable.”
There was no more comment from the spokesman on the prospect of Jynneos being approved for usage in children.
Jenner can be administered “off label”—for example, given to children who have been exposed—because it is licenced, not only approved under an emergency use permission like the early COVID vaccinations.
There is no pre-existing data available for usage in the paediatric population, therefore researchers will need to collect safety and, if possible, immunogenicity data on these children and monitor them closely. That’s fine, but Jynneos is a safe product, and this must prevent a broader outbreak in the paediatric community, as well as the people who care for and live with them.
It is “worth the potential risk” to provide the vaccine to children, she said.