Children potentially exposed to monkeypox at Illinois day care, officials say


A person who works at a day care in Illinois has tested positive for monkeypox and potentially exposed children, who are at higher risk for severe outcomes from the virus, state officials announced Friday.

Officials are screening children and others who were potentially exposed for symptoms, and the Food and Drug Administration is allowing the children to receive the Jynneos vaccine, which is authorized only for adults. The vaccine can prevent infection or reduce the severity of symptoms after exposure.

What to know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments and protection

Authorities said no one else has tested positive. Illinois health officials had determined that between 40 and 50 people, many of whom are children, had been potentially exposed to the day-care worker directly or to items that had been handled by the person, officials said.

“We are casting a wide net,” Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, wrote in a text message Friday night. Pryde said that several dozen children had been offered vaccines, pending their guardians’ approval.

Officials from the new White House team of monkeypox coordinators, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned of the day-care worker’s infection early Friday afternoon and worked to expedite vaccines to the potentially exposed individuals. One official estimated that the necessary paperwork to allow children to receive the vaccines was completed within an hour, noting that the faster a vaccine is given after exposure the more likely it is to prevent infection.

Local officials also credited the federal response, which has been scrutinized in recent weeks by physicians and patients who have complained of unnecessary bureaucracy when trying to access treatments, tests and vaccines. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, commended federal regulators Friday for allowing the swift vaccination of exposed children with their parents’ approval and “without jumping through the normal hoops in this process.”

The virus spreads by close contact to an infected person and is not airborne. State officials said the day-care worker is also employed in a home-health-care setting and that they were in touch with the affected client.

Federal officials have confirmed more than 7,500 cases of monkeypox across the United States, overwhelmingly among gay and bisexual men. At least five children have confirmed cases of monkeypox believed to be the result of household transmission, according to federal officials.

The case of the day-care worker in Illinois has heightened concerns among public health authorities who are worried the outbreak will circulate more broadly and affect populations that are more vulnerable to severe outcomes — including children — if it is not contained, particularly as students return to schools and college campuses this fall.

Monkeypox illnesses usually resolve after a few weeks and there are no known fatalities in the United States. But for children and people with weak immune systems, the disease can lead to severe medical complications and had a higher fatality rate in young…

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