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Boston children’s doctor calls for awareness as monkey pox spreads

Health

“Children will not be the true at-risk category compared to their adult counterparts.”

An infectious disease physician at Boston Children’s Hospital urges parents and guardians to be aware of monkeypox transmission in their communities to manage the risks to their children.

Dr. John Brownstein, director of innovation at the hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News on Tuesday that data on children and monkeypox in the United States is very limited.

“We have four cases in this country, so the risk is low,” Brownstein said. “But you have a domestic transmission. So we will see more children with this virus.

The virus is usually transmitted by prolonged contact with skin lesions, often by direct skin-to-skin contact. But it can also spread through a secondary surface, such as shared clothing, bedding, or towels.

Less commonly, the disease can be spread through respiratory droplets, according to the public health department, but it is not spread through brief conversations or interactions with someone who has tested positive.

Brownstein said data from other countries suggests children under 8 can “face serious consequences from this virus.”

“This can include airway obstruction, corneal scarring, pneumonia, sepsis, and remember, there is no licensed vaccine for our children,” the doctor said. “So we have to be concerned. So people who are worried about their children obviously need to know what’s going on in their community, especially if there’s an increase in cases.

As of Thursday, there had been 115 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Public Health. The monkeypox vaccine is offered by 13 different health providers across the state to eligible individuals. So far, 4,303 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts.

Brownstein pointed out during his appearance on ABC News that monkeypox is spread through very close contact.

“So ultimately children won’t be the true risk category compared to their adult counterparts,” Brownstein said.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fevers, headaches, sore throats, and swollen lymph nodes, but the defining feature is a rash that fills with clear fluid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who thinks they have the virus to wear a mask, cover any rash or lesion around other people, and contact a health care provider. For more information about monkeypox and its spread, visit www.mass.gov/monkeypox and www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.



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