Biden calls monkeypox something ‘everybody should be concerned about’ – and says further spread of the disease would be ‘consequential’
- The president has been briefed on the outbreak, his security advisor said
- Biden said it is something ‘everybody should be concerned about’
- He spoke while leaving South Korea en route to Japan
President Joe Biden called the outbreak of monkeypox something ‘everybody should be concerned about, and his security advisor says he has been briefed on the situation.
‘They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,’ Biden said as he left South Korea en route to Japan on a trip that is focused on economic and security issues.
‘We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine if any might be available for it. It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential.’
‘That’s all they told me,’ he concluded, presumably referencing his advisors.
‘We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do,’ he added.
President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. He commented on the monkeypox outbreak
His national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, indicated the president had been briefed on the matter, and said the U.S. had stockpiled vaccine if needed to deal with a disease that was first identified in the 1950s.
‘So there is a vaccine relevant to treating monkeypox. We have vaccine available to be deployed for that purpose,’ Sullivan told reporters traveling on Air Force One.
One of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand on June 5, 2003, via a picture released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A 2003 electron microscope image issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions
WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?
Monkeypox – often caught through handling monkeys – is a rare viral disease that kills around 10 per cent of people it strikes, according to figures.
The virus responsible for the disease is found mainly in the tropical areas of west and central Africa.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, with the first reported human case in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the US in 2003 and the UK in September 2018.
It resides in wild animals but humans can catch it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat.
The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose or mouth.
It can pass between humans via droplets in the air, and by touching the skin of an infected individual, or touching objects contaminated by them.
Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. These include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.
The most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.
Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. Yet, the disease can often prove fatal.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, according to the World Health Organization.
‘I’ve been out on the road giving him updates based on the written input we are getting from our health and medical team and walking through with him what the current state of play looks like as we learn about cases both in the United States and elsewhere, making sure he’s tracking the picture,’ he added.
He said Biden is being ‘apprised on this on a very regular basis and getting inputs from the key members of his health team.’
The U.S. has two reported cases, but a series of countries have been reporting outbreaks of a disease that is usually confined to tropical central and west Africa.
It can be transmitted by close contacts with an infected person, including through sexual contact. Infections are usually mild, the the current strain causing the outbreak is sometimes fatal. The disease was first found in monkeys, hence its name.
It has reached nearly a dozen countries that don’t usually have the disease in an endemic form.
Some cases have been linked to travel in Africa, but others appear to be from community spread.
The new are of concern comes as Biden has been meeting with leaders in Asia about how to continue combating COVID-19, as well as its economic impacts.
Biden plans to talk to Japanese and other Indo-Pacific leaders about actions allies can take to deal with supply chain issues that were brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.