First US Child Catches Monkeypox, CDC Chief Says Infection Came After Contact with Gay Man

Two children in the U.S., a toddler in California and a non-resident infant in Washington, D.C., have been diagnosed with monkeypox, according to news reports.

Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the cases on Friday.

According to Axios, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky broke the news during a virtual event with The Washington Post. Both children had been in contact with “individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men’s community,” Walensky said, according to Axios.

Monkeypox is a disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, according to the U.K. Guardian.

Epidemiologists are warning that a rising number of monkeypox cases across the world poses a serious risk to public health.

Children are at “especially increased risk” to have a severe reaction to monkeypox disease, Axios reported.

Some countries experienced outbreaks prior to 2022 and, according to the World Health Organization, the disease is generally more deadly among the very young.

“The case fatality ratio of monkeypox has historically ranged from 0 to 11% in the general population and has been higher among young children,” WHO found.

Walensky noted on Friday that both infected children “are doing well.”

The infant was “transiting” through the United States when the test was done, ABC News reported. The agency did not identify the infant’s country of origin, ABC reported.

The CDC also released a statement confirming that the cases are unrelated to one another and are “likely the result of household transmission,” Axios reported.

The disease is not necessarily transmitted sexually and can be spread through close contact alone.

According to a 2022 study conducted in the U.K., approximately 96 percent of monkeypox diagnoses are found among men who have sex with other men.

According to The Associated Press, the current outbreak has been linked to gay raves in Spain and Belgium in the spring.

In the U.S., monkeypox cases have broken out in New York City and San Francisco after gay “Pride” events for June.

Despite this, the messaging regarding monkeypox from public health experts has emphasized the idea that anyone can catch the disease.

In a commentary published Monday by The Washington Post, infectious disease journalist Benjamin Ryan, who has specialized in gay health issues for decades, pointed out that a lack of proper messaging could lead to more harm.

“This broad-strokes maxim — that everyone on Earth is susceptible to this troubling viral infection — might be factual on its surface. But it is so egregiously misleading it amounts to misinformation,” Ryan wrote.

“But as these public health experts know well, epidemiology is less concerned with whether someone could contract an infection; instead, the much more vital questions focus on which groups of people are most likely to be exposed to a pathogen, to contract it and why. In public health statistics, this is the study of relative risk.

“By reducing monkeypox risk to a simplistic binary equation, public health leaders are prioritizing fighting stigma over their duty to directly inform the public about the true contours and drivers of this global outbreak. In particular, they are failing to properly convey the seriousness of this burgeoning crisis to gay and bisexual men.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.