CDC boosts monkeypox testing with 142 cases confirmed in US, 16 in Florida
The action comes as WHO convenes its emergency committee to consider if the outbreak of monkeypox - mostly in Europe - warrants being declared a global emergency.
The Biden administration has started shipping testing kits for monkeypox to commercial laboratories in a bid to speed diagnostic tests for suspected infections for the virus that has already infected at least 142 people in the U.S.
The Florida Department of Health reports that 16 cases have been confrmed in the state as of Wednesday, including 11 in Broward County, two in Orange, and one each in Collier, Miami-Dade and Seminole.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending tests to commercial labs, including Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare, which it said would significant expand the nation’s health system’s capacity to test for monkeypox.
Previously, testing had largely been confined to public health labs, which combined have a capacity of about 8,000 tests per week.
The action comes as the World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee to consider if the outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency.
The disease first causes flu-like symptoms before progressing to a rash on the face and body and is commonly found in parts of central and west Africa. But this year, 1,880 infections have been reported in more than 30 countries where monkeypox isn’t typically found.
More than 80% of the cases are in Europe. Meanwhile, Africa has already seen more than 1,400 cases this year, including 62 deaths. To date, no deaths have been seen outside Africa.
Some experts say WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many scientists also doubt any declaration would help to curb the epidemic, since the developed countries recording the most recent cases are already moving to shut it down.
Monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, where one version of the disease kills up to 10% of people.