The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there was evidence of local transmission of monkeypox, in addition to reports of cases where people had traveled overseas.
Cases mostly occur in men who have sex with men, but women are also infected, CDC staff member Dr. Agam Rao told a meeting of experts Thursday.
Monkeypox, a viral infection that causes skin lesions, is endemic in parts of Africa. But the current outbreak has hit countries where the virus does not usually spread, raising concerns.
The CDC said there have also been reports of transmission among family members and close contacts.
“We also heard around the world about close contacts like close family members who, for example, shared bedding, towels, got an infection,” Rao said. “So it’s not just through close intimate contact that this spreads.”
The lesions associated with the current outbreak are also smaller than those typical of classic monkeypox, according to the public health agency.
The CDC released guidelines last month recommending the use of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine for lab personnel and other at-risk individuals, making another vaccine available in addition to Emergent BioSolutions.
Earlier Thursday, New York City opened a temporary clinic to administer the two-dose Jynneos vaccine to eligible people who may have been exposed to monkeypox, including gay and bisexual men.
Although there have been cases of heart inflammation called myocarditis associated with ACAM2000, no such cases have yet been reported after using Jynneos, the CDC said.
Jynneos’ supply is limited and the agency is considering how best to use the supplies, she said.
(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)