This week, a frightening milestone was reached in the battle with the monkeypox virus. Wyoming confirmed its first case, which means that the outbreak is now found in all 50 U.S. states.
The Wyoming Department of Health announced its first case in a statement that indicated it was found in a resident of Laramie County. This is where the state capital of Cheyenne is.
The state health officer with the Wyoming Department of Health, Dr. Alexia Harrist, said, “Because monkeypox spreads through close, intimate contact, we do not believe the risk for the virus is now a higher concern for the local community or for most people in Wyoming. Monkeypox does not spread easily like familiar viruses such as influenza or COVID-19.”
All 50 states now have at least one monkeypox infection in this current outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And there are reported infections in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. as well.
The first state to confirm infection in America in the current outbreak was Massachusetts in mid-May. That patient had recently traveled to Canada.
Just since mid-May, there have now been a total of 15,433 monkeypox infections, according to data from the CDC. The state of New York has the most cases with 2,910, followed by California at 2,663 and Florida with 1,588. There are 23 states and the District of Columbia that have reported more than a hundred infections.
As the numbers increase, so does the criticism for the way the Biden administration is handling the outbreak. They are trying to acquire more vaccines amid a worldwide shortage. There are now dozens of countries reporting an outbreak.
In this current round of cases, Great Britain was the first to confirm a case in early May. But by the end of July, the virus had increased to such an extent that the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. According to the CDC, there are now 43,000 confirmed cases worldwide.
One of the fears across the country is focused on children and schools. There is still trauma among many from the previous pandemic. According to the CDC, schools are not being asked to take extra precautions to curb the spread of monkeypox. But they should continue to enforce “their everyday operational guidance” and do things like ensure hand-washing and clean surfaces.
“At this time, the risk of monkeypox to children and adolescents in the United States is low,” the CDC’s guidance says.
Data published this week shows that just six cases of the virus are in children between 0 to 5 years old. There are seven in children 6 to 10 years old, and four in children 11 to 15 years old.
“I think CDC put together this guidance, it seems to me, because of questions that were coming from the public. And that’s a very valid reason to get information out. If people are looking for answers, that’s a big part of what CDC does,” said Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Kimberlin edited the “Red Book” which was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The purpose of the book is to guide doctors on infectious diseases in children, including monkeypox.
He said he agreed with the CDC’s recommendations, describing the risk that children might catch monkeypox at school as “vanishingly low.”
At least one case has been identified at a high school in Las Vegas.
“Monkeypox transmission in school settings is not common and the Health District believes the risk of transmission at the school is low,” a spokesperson for the Southern Nevada Health District said in a statement.
Let’s hope these professionals are right and our children stay safe.