New York City’s Health Department reported the first known case of monkeypox in a person under the age of 18 on Friday, August 26th. The first case involving a minor comes at a crucial time as the new school year begins on September 8th. According to reports, the case resulted from household contact with an adult infected with monkeypox.
“There is a juvenile case of MPV (or monkeypox) in New York City. While we understand the concerns of families, we also know that the overall risk of exposure for children in the city remains very low,” said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, in a statement.
This is the second reported case of a minor infected with monkeypox in the state of New York. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far reported 17 cases of monkeypox in children under the age of 16 in the country.
According to the health department’s statistics, the city has seen about 2,900 cases of monkeypox since May. Cases of the disease peaked in July but there has since been a decline in infections with an average of 40 new infections per day.
Initially, there was a necessary rush for vaccines but it has been reported that the demand for them has reduced as well, which was attributed to shortages and technical challenges.
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To be fully protected against the virus, one needs to have two doses of the vaccine administered, four weeks apart. Some students, teachers, and parents are concerned with the fact that there are no vaccines available for children under 18 unless they have been exposed to the virus.
However, the New York State Department of Health has published a list of precautions to take in order to avoid infection and the spread of the disease. It is advisable to avoid skin-to-skin contact with a person with a rash or any of the other monkeypox symptoms.
If a person suspects they might be infected with monkeypox, they must isolate themselves at home and, if possible, stay separate from family members and pets. Schools have been advised to stock up on items such as soap, hand sanitizers, and paper towels. In the case that an infection of monkeypox is discovered, schools should have set protocols on how to disinfect relevant areas.
New York has proven to be fertile ground for the spread of monkeypox with Governor Kathy Hochul declaring a State Disaster Emergency on July 29th and New York City Mayor Eric Adams declaring a state of emergency for the city on August 1st.
The city currently accounts for 25% of the monkeypox outbreak in the United States. Manhattan has reported 1,211 cases while Brooklyn comes second with 661. Manhattan accounts for 41% of the monkeypox cases in the city.
Monkeypox can infect anyone, with the disease spreading via close contact with skin and rashes. Respiratory droplets are also carriers of the disease. The monkeypox virus can spread through contact with clothing and bedding that are contaminated with droplets containing the virus.