The nation’s leading infectious disease expert and the White House’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had a warning for pregnant women and children about monkeypox – a disease that has primarily affected gay men.
According to Fauci, there is “really a profound risk” for pregnant women and children to contract monkeypox as he told NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Tuesday, “We’ve got to understand the modality of transmission, the manifestations, also the risk for people like children and pregnant women.
“There’s really a profound risk. Now, right now, thank goodness, we have a report of only two cases in children, but they’re all risk populations. So we’ve got to reach out to the community, particularly men who have sex with men…”
Fauci reiterated that monkeypox is a virus that medical professionals do understand and have the tools available to manage, unlike the unknown early days of the COVID pandemic.
“…We now have something that we did not really have early on. We have, right now, vaccines. We have good antivirals. We have tests, and we have an etiologic agent that we have experience with,” he said, adding, “it is important to point out that the mortality of this is really very low. That doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously because some of these lesions in monkeypox are really quite painful to the individuals.”
Currently, 99% of monkeypox cases have occurred in men that have sex with men, Fauci told “All Things Considered.” However, Fauci maintained that monkeypox should not come with a stigma, an issue that the federal government needs to fight by concentrating on the virus, not those that are impacted by it.
“This is a virus. You fight the virus. You don’t stigmatize the people who are inflicted with the virus. You reach out to the community,” he told the news outlet. “You make it very easy for them to have access to testing, to treatment, and to vaccine, as opposed to making it a situation where people are afraid to come forward for those types of things.
“It’s got to be recognized who the enemy is. The enemy is the virus, not anybody who’s being afflicted with the virus,” he said.
The risk of a person contracting monkeypox is “believed to be low,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has also said that anyone that comes in contact with an infected person is at risk of infection as the disease is spread from human-to-human contact.
Fauci told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that an emergency declaration about monkeypox is being considered.
“That’s something that’s obviously under active consideration,” he said.
Globally, there have been just over 19,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox, with over 3,500 of those cases in the U.S., primarily in New York and California, according to the CDC.