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CDC widens net of monkeypox symptoms for clinicians to watch for as cases continue to rise

While monkeypox can be spread up close through saliva droplets or respiratory secretions, the agency said it can’t travel through aerosols, such as SARS-CoV-2. “If a virus spreads through aerosols, it is considered ‘airborne,'” said Raj Panjabi, senior director for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the White House. “There have been reports of monkeypox droplet transmission. Air transmission does not have that.”

so far, the CDC has confirmed 45 cases of monkey pox in 15 US states and the District of Columbia, part of an unusual global outbreak of the disease that is endemic to countries in West and Central Africa. More than 1,000 cases have now been reported in countries outside that region since May, according to the World Health Organization.

While most cases in the US were exposed to monkeypox during recent international travel, some individuals had direct contact with a known case of monkeypox in the US, and some do not know how they contracted the virus. “That could indicate community transmission at levels below what comes to the attention of public health officials,” McQuiston said.

In addition to rash, fever, headache and other symptoms listed on the CDC websiteMcQuiston said some monkey pox patients had experienced proctitis, a painful inflammation of the lining of the rectum.

Confusion over whether monkeypox can be transmitted by airborne particles that linger or travel on air currents, similar to how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted, arose from a change in the agency’s travel guidance related to the monkeypox outbreak.

It was updated in late May to include wearing a mask, among other precautions, such as avoiding contact with sick people and dead or live wild animals that could carry the disease. “Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkey pox,” the directive said on May 31.

A week later, that recommendation was withdrawn from the agency’s tour guide without immediate explanation.

The wording of the guidelines update was “confusing,” a CDC official told POLITICO, and when the agency realized it gave the impression that the virus could be airborne, it decided to remove it. The change does not reflect disagreements among agency officials over how the virus is spread, the official said.

New guidelines posted on the agency’s website Thursday indicate it cannot be spread through “casual conversations,” “walking someone with monkeypox into a grocery store” or “touching items like doorknobs.”

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