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CDC Issues Health Alert Over Deadly, Fast-Spreading Strain of Monkeypox

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert through its Health Alert Network (HAN) to inform clinicians and health departments nationwide of the emergence and spread of Clade I, a deadly subtype of the monkeypox virus predominantly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Despite not being reported in the United States so far, this outbreak, affecting 22 out of 26 provinces including urban areas, requires heightened vigilance among travelers returning from DRC.

Symptoms associated with Clade I mpox are similar to other forms of the virus such as a widespread rash and lymphadenopathy; thus healthcare professionals must promptly notify state health departments upon encountering patients exhibiting these symptoms who have recently traveled to DRC.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the importance of specimen submission for clade-specific testing in such cases.

Additionally, vaccine coverage in the United States remains low, yet vaccines like JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are expected to be effective against both Clade I and Clade II MPXV infections; hence, medical professionals should recommend vaccination for all eligible patients.

Furthermore, travelers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) must take heed of a separate travel advisory issued by the CDC that calls for enhanced vigilance.

This includes avoiding contact with anyone who is ill, maintaining a safe distance from wild animals, and abstaining from consuming or handling game meat.

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New York Post reported:

A deadly, fast-spreading strain of the monkeypox virus has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on high alert.

The variant of the virus, which causes the severe disease known as mpox, kills up to 10% of the people who are infected, according to the World Health Organization.

“The virus variant is known to be more virulent. If it adapts better to human-to-human transmission, that presents a risk,” Rosamund Lewis of the WHO’s mpox surveillance team told Reuters.

Last year, a less-deadly variant of the monkeypox virus known as Clade II spread worldwide (a clade is a genetic subtype of virus). More than 31,000 Americans were diagnosed with mpox during last year’s outbreak, and 55 died.

But now, the rapid spread of the deadlier Clade I subtype of the virus has been reported by health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the disease has spread to 22 of the DRC’s 26 provinces.

CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen recently issued a new alert concerning the COVID “Pirola” variant and recommended that individuals presenting with symptoms wear a mask.

“Respiratory viruses commonly cause illness such as flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), especially in the fall and winter. There are actions you can take to protect yourself and others. Learn about how to reduce your risk of getting sick from these viruses, and if they are spreading in your community,” the CDC stated.

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