CDC reports evidence of monkeypox virus on household surfaces: 5 updates

Monkeypox virus DNA was found on high contact surfaces in the Utah home of two infected individuals, the CDC said in an Aug. 19 report

Personnel from the Utah health department swabbed objects in the home where two infected people had been isolating for 20 days. The patients were still showing symptoms when samples were collected from high-contact objects and surfaces, including cloth furniture, blankets, handles and switches. 

Monkeypox virus genetic material was detected on 70 percent of 30 specimens, the CDC said. Virus DNA was detected on all samples from porous items (cloth furniture and blankets), 68 percent of nonporous surfaces (handles and switches) and on one chair. The findings indicate "some level of contamination occurred in the household environment," however, no live virus was detected. 

"Persons living in or visiting the home of someone with monkeypox should follow appropriate precautions against indirect exposure and transmission by wearing a well-fitting mask, avoiding touching possibly contaminated surfaces, maintaining appropriate hand hygiene, avoiding sharing eating utensils, clothing, bedding or towels, and following home disinfection recommendations," researchers said. 

The report called for additional research to better assess the prevalence of surface contamination and whether there is potential for indirect transmission. 

"The epidemiologic data we have so far in this outbreak support that people are not contracting monkeypox through touching contaminated surfaces. The preponderance of data indicates it's being transmitted through direct physical contact, whether sexual or nonsexual," Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said of the new findings. 

Four more updates:

1. More than 14,000 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Aug. 18. New York leads the nation's outbreak, with more than 2,700 confirmed cases. California follows closely with 2,663 confirmed cases, CDC data shows. Globally, cases have increased by about 20 percent for two consecutive weeks, the World Health Organization said Aug. 17. CDC data shows more than 40,000 global cases as of Aug. 19. 

2. Nearly 2 million additional doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine are now available for states and jurisdictions to order, according to HHS. This is about 360,000 vials, with the FDA's Aug. 9 emergency use authorization allowing for each of those to be split into five doses. 

3. New York has reported its first monkeypox case in a minor, data from the state's health department shows. At least 10 pediatric cases have now been confirmed in the U.S. The CDC said earlier pediatric cases were likely the result of household transmission. The Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is available to children determined to be at high risk of contracting monkeypox under an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

4. Breakthrough infections are occurring in some cases when people are vaccinated after exposure, WHO officials said. The breakthrough cases should not come as a surprise, as the WHO was not expecting 100 percent efficacy, according to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the organization's technical lead for monkeypox.

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