At least four children in the US have now tested positive for monkey pox, officials have confirmed.
Amid a growing rise of cases across the country, state officials in Indiana confirmed late last week that two children had tested positive for monkeypox. At this time, no additional information has been made available due to concerns about patient privacy, the Indiana Department of Health wrote in a statement.
“Like many other states, Indiana has seen an increase in monkey pox cases in the past month,” said state health commissioner Dr. Kris Box in a statement.
Federal officials had previously confirmed last month that two other children in the US had tested positive for monkey pox.
One case was confirmed in a toddler, who is a California resident, and the other was reported in a baby, a non-US resident, who was tested while traveling through Washington, DC. The two cases are unrelated and are located in different jurisdictions, and were likely the result of household transmission.
While no information is available on the current status of the virus-positive children in Indiana, both other children who have been diagnosed with monkeypox are said to be in good health.
However, there are concerns among health officials about monkey pox’s impact on young children.
Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a health warning that there is some preliminary evidence suggesting that children under age 8 may develop a more serious illness if they are infected with monkeypox.
At present, most of the monkey cases confirmed in the current outbreak domestically and worldwide have been detected in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. However, health officials have repeatedly stressed that the virus does not discriminate and that anyone exposed to monkey pox can contract the virus.
People are most commonly infected through close person-to-person contact, including intimate contact, although it is possible for the disease to spread through respiratory secretions or by touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkey pox,” according to the CDC.
The news of new cases of monkeypox in children comes amid mounting pressure from officials across the country to let the US know that the outbreak is a public health problem.
On Monday, Illinois became the second state in the country to declare monkey pox a public health emergency, designating Illinois as a “disaster area” for the virus, Governor JB Pritzker announced in a press release.
“[Monkeypox virus] is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent its spread,” Pritzker wrote in a statement. “Therefore, I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure smooth coordination between government agencies and all levels of government, which will enhance our ability to rapidly prevent and treat the disease.”
The governor’s statement will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to expand access to resources, such as vaccines and testing, in the state’s efforts to fight the virus.
“We’ve seen this virus disproportionately impact the LGBTQ+ community when it first spreads. Here in Illinois, we’ll make sure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe, while ensuring that members are not stigmatized when they access critical health care,” Pritzker added.
Last week, New York became the first state to declare monkey pox an “emergency disaster,” with officials calling New York City the “epicenter of the outbreak.”
Across the country, officials in San Francisco have also introduced a local monkeypox emergency declaration.
More than 22,000 cases have been reported worldwide, including nearly 5,200 cases in the US, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox cases have now been reported in nearly every state in the country, with Montana, Vermont and Wyoming now the only states yet to confirm cases.