US expanding monkeypox testing capacity as cases rise

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration announced Wednesday, June 22, that it was expanding monkeypox testing capacity to five commercial lab companies amid rising cases.

As of Tuesday, 142 cases of monkeypox had been reported in the United States from 24 states and Washington, DC. The first US case was reported to the CDC on May 17.

“All Americans should be worried about cases of monkeypox. Fortunately, we have the tools right now to fight and treat cases in America,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). “By dramatically increasing the number of testing sites across the country, we are making it possible for everyone who needs to be tested to do so.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun shipping monkeypox tests to the five companies: Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare, HHS said.

HHS said health care providers will be able to use these labs in early July.

Commercial labs “will dramatically expand testing capacity nationwide and make testing more convenient and accessible for patients and health care providers,” HHS said.

More than 40 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with confirmed cases topping 3,000. The World Health Organization is due to decide on Thursday whether to declare monkeypox a global health emergency.

Monkeypox, which is spread by close contact and was first found in monkeys, occurs mainly in West and Central Africa and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere.

The Washington Post reported the expected announcement earlier.

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