By LUKE ANDREWS
Published:July 23, 2022
One is a toddler from California; the other is in an infant who is not a U.S. resident and was ‘transiting through’ Washington D.C. Neither had contact with each other.
Health officials said both children were ‘doing well’, but warned children under the age of eight are at high risk of severe monkeypox.
It is thought both children likely caught the virus from ‘household contacts’.
Dr Rochelle Walensky said the children both had contact with gay or bisexual men — the community where most cases are being detected in the current outbreak.
It was not clear when they caught the virus, or what symptoms they suffered.
They are receiving the antiviral TPOXX, which can help stop an infection in its tracks by interfering with the virus’s maturation.
They are the first cases among children to be detected in America. There are currently more than 2,500 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. — the second biggest outbreak in the world behind only Spain with 3,000.
A boy under 10 years old tested positive for the virus in the Netherlands in June, as was revealed this week. The Dutch child suffered more than 20 red lesions on his face, forearms and thighs but had no fever or swollen lymph nodes — with the infection mostly clearing within a week.
Revealing the infections at a virtual event for the Washington Post, Walensky said: ‘We have seen now two cases that have occurred in children.
‘Both of these are traced back to individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men’s community.’
She added that these cases have been on the whole ‘adjacent to the community most at risk’.
In a press release, the agency said: ‘CDC and public health authorities are still investigating how the children became infected.
‘While both children have monkeypox symptoms, they are in good health.’
They added: ‘Monkeypox spreads through close skin-to-skin contact, which — in the case of children — could include hugging, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups and utensils.’
Last week the CDC said it was only aware of monkeypox infections among adults, mostly in gay or bisexual men.
Until now monkeypox infections have been almost exclusively among gay or bisexual men.
But a top expert warned last week the virus had likely already spread to other groups, but that this was yet to be detected due to a lack of testing.
The World Health Organization warns that children — as well as older people and pregnant women — are more at risk from monkeypox.
Scientific studies suggest that between three and ten percent of children infected with monkeypox die from the disease, depending on the strain they catch.
In the Dutch case, doctors said they counted 20 lesions on the face, ear, forearms, thighs and back of the child — but that he did not suffer a fever or swollen lymph nodes.
Within a week the virus in his body had dropped to non-detectable levels, they added.
It was not clear how he became infected, although doctors said he likely had contact with an infected person or contaminated object that ‘was not recognized’.
Monkeypox primarily spreads through close physical contact or towels or bedsheets that have also been used by a patient. In rare cases, it can also be transmitted through the air.
The CDC has been repeatedly slammed for its response to the virus, with testing initially being slow to get off the ground masking the spread of the virus.
There have also been problems rolling out the vaccine, with New York City — at the epicenter of the crisis — having to delay second doses for patients because too few jabs have been supplied.