Monkeypox was the last thing on Erica’s mind recently.
After raising a toddler during the COVID-19 pandemic, she thought she was done learning about unfamiliar infections. Now she had to fear her three-year-old daughter, Kate, again.
“I was really worried about her and what monkeypox meant to children,” said Erica, who asked not to use her family name. Approved only for
“Right now, I’m panicking,” she recalled.
But a vaccine to prepare for a potential terrorist attack using smallpox and concerted efforts by private medical practice and state and federal officials prevented the worst from happening.
Monkeypox, a viral disease of animal origin that was once found only in a few African countries, has spread worldwide in recent months. The World Health Organization reports he has more than 3,400 cases in 50 countries. The United States had 2,108 confirmed cases as of Tuesday. Experts say this is an unprecedented outbreak and may be vastly underestimated.
New York is emerging as the epicenter. To date, 639 people have tested positive for orthopox (a family of viruses that includes smallpox, cowpox, and monkeypox) and are presumed to have monkeypox. New Jersey reported 45 confirmed or probable cases on Tuesday, mostly in Northern Jersey, according to the state Department of Health.
Their number is expected to increase.
Symptoms usually develop 3 weeks after exposure. Testing has increased in the past two weeks as several commercial laboratories added the ability to analyze swabs for skin lesions. “We expect an increase in cases” through the rest of August, he said.
With long lines for testing and lack of vaccine appointments in New York City, critics say the mistakes of the early COVID-19 response have been repeated since monkeypox arrived in the US in mid-May. There were too few tests to determine the extent and location of the virus’ spread. Some warn that it is impossible to contain the virus now.
The majority of cases in the current outbreak have been reported in men who have sex with men, but the virus can infect anyone. , appearing as a blister-like rash (tiny pimples with bubble tops). Towels and bedding that have touched the affected area can close face-to-face interactions such as kissing, thus potentially transmitting the infection.
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In South Orange, 3-year-old Kate was definitely exposed, her mother said. She was so happy to see her uncle during her June visit that she ran to his bed every morning when she woke up. She loved to cuddle. The whole family was in close contact with the visitors, but Erica was especially concerned about her daughter.
Little is known about monkeypox in children. Of the 700 confirmed cases in the U.S. during the current outbreak for which demographic information is known, none were under the age of 18, CDC officials said Friday. , only eight were identified as female at birth.
There are vaccines that can prevent or reduce the severity of monkeypox symptoms for exposed people. In some areas, such as New York City, demand far outstrips supply. The New York City Department of Health website for vaccine appointments has crashed twice and currently has no appointments available.
But Erica and her daughter were lucky.
Dr. Ashish Palik, chief quality officer at Summit Health, where Erica sought care, explained that the vaccine significantly reduces the chances of contracting the disease if administered within the first four days after exposure. “If you take it beyond a few days, you can still get sick, but it’s less likely to be very serious.” The advantage justified the effort to get it, he said.
The JYNNEOS vaccine, developed to prevent smallpox, is kept as part of the federal government’s National Strategic Stockpile in case the once-eradicated virus is released. The vaccine is also known to be effective against monkeypox, a related virus in the orthopox family, but it’s unclear how effective it will be in the current outbreak.Summit Health pharmacy services director It is given as two 0.5-milliliter injections, 28 days apart, according to Laura Balsamini.
According to the state health department, New Jersey has 2,700 doses allocated, including 2,400 doses over the past few days. As of Monday, 24 doses had been used. Erica and Cate each received two.
Because of its limited supply, the vaccine has been used only in people known to have been in contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox.
But on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a policy change to include “New Jersey residents at high risk of exposure to the virus in the past 14 days.” The vaccine is now available by appointment through three community partners, the health ministry said.
- Hyacinth AIDS Foundation/Project Living Out Loud!, Jersey City: 201-706-3480
- Prevention Resource Network, Central Jersey Visiting Nurses Association Program, Asbury Park: 732-502-5100
- North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI), Newark: 973-483-3444, ext. 200
“The department will continue to expand access to the vaccine as the state obtains additional supplies,” Health Commissioner Judi Persicily said on Tuesday. In addition to those with exposure to monkeypox, those who attended an event with known monkeypox exposure, and “MeIdentify men who are gay, bisexual, or who have had sex with men, and/or men who are transgender, gender nonconforming, or non-binary, and who have a history of multiple or anonymous sex partners within the past 14 days.” said the Ministry of Health, Tuesday.
For Erica, it was an easy decision. She knew she had been in contact with someone who tested positive. New York City Department of Health contact tracing investigators have alerted New Jersey health officials that Erica and Kate have been exposed. she was eligible.
It was different with Kate. Because of her Kate’s age, her doctor had to obtain special approval from the Food and Drug Administration to vaccinate her, whose pediatrician said, “Single-patient investigational new drug I have applied for permission to Generally, such applications are reviewed as soon as possible, an FDA spokesperson said.
Summit Health Pharmacy Director Balsamini was attending a Paul McCartney concert when he received an email from the Deputy Commissioner of State Health. He said a federal courier would drive a cooler containing four vials of the vaccine to the Florham Park office of the Medical Group the next morning, the federal June 1 holiday. I met with the vendor and put the vial in the pharmacy’s freezer.
Erica got her first injection that day, and Kate got hers the day after it was FDA approved.
They both felt fine afterward, with slight pain and itching at the injection sites.
Neither developed monkeypox.
If they develop obvious rashes or flu-like symptoms, treatments developed for smallpox are available. Critics of the federal response say they are also difficult to obtain. The New Jersey Department of Health has a treatment known as TPOXX. A spokesperson said it was provided to requesting doctors and that its use was being monitored.