A doctor caring for an infant hospitalized with monkeypox in Washington State details the care of a young patient

Although thousands of Americans have tested positive for monkeypox since the outbreak began last spring, only a handful of pediatric cases of monkeypox have been identified in the United States

Across the country, at least 18 children in 10 states have now tested positive for monkeypox, according to state and local health officials, and little is known about most of those cases, due to privacy concerns. patients.

One such case was identified in King County, Washington, where local officials recently confirmed that an infant in their community had tested positive for monkeypox virus.

The child was hospitalized and received treatment for the virus in recent days after being exposed to monkeypox through an infected family member, officials said. The child was not infected in a school, daycare or other public place.

Seattle Children’s Hospital officials confirmed to ABC News that their teams are currently caring for the infected baby, who is less than a year old.

Dr. Danielle Zerr, medical director of infection control at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told ABC News that while the infant is still hospitalized, the patient is doing better and officials are developing a discharge plan. The patient has been hospitalized for several days, according to Zerr.

PHOTO: A colorized transmission electron micrograph shows monkeypox particles (red) found in an infected cell (blue), cultured in a lab that was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md.

A colorized transmission electron micrograph shows monkeypox particles (red) found in an infected cell (blue), cultured in a lab that was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md.

NIAID via AP

A worrying rash prompted parents to initially seek care for the infant, she said.

“The main thing the patient was feeling was the rash and the complications of the rash, so the fear of super infection of the rash. Those are really the reasons why the patient came to the hospital. “, Zerr said.

“The rash can be quite pronounced in many patients, especially as it changes over time. And I think that kind of rash on a child is going to raise people’s antennae and cause a parent to get treatment,” she added.

In addition to “supportive care” to ensure the patient is hydrated and well cared for, the hospital treated the young patient with TPOXX, a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for smallpox, which has been upgraded. available to children under special conditions extended access protocols.

“Once we had the confirmed test result, we started this antiviral for the patient and it really seemed like there was some improvement within days of starting the antiviral,” Zerr said. “The rash showed some improvement with treatment. So that’s a good sign, and [the] the patient may seem to feel a little better.”

The hospital and local public health authorities have been working to deploy contact tracing to determine if any staff, patients or families have been exposed to the virus. A hospital representative also told ABC News in a statement that “appropriate isolation” had been “instituted” for some staff. Anyone who may have been exposed will be contacted.

People who were exposed to the positive case will also be offered the monkeypox vaccine, Zerr said.

Earlier this month, in an effort to protect younger Americans, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization that allows children under 18 at high risk for monkeypox to be vaccinated.

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a health alert that there is preliminary evidence to suggest that children under the age of 8 could develop more severe illness if infected with monkeypox.

Zerr noted that it’s understandable that given the news of emerging pediatric cases of monkeypox, parents might feel anxious. However, she pointed out that at present it is still quite rare for children to contract the virus, and children are unlikely to become infected in settings like schools, as most transmission occurs between close contacts.

PICTURED: Dr. Danielle Zerr, Medical Director of Infection Control at Seattle Children's Hospital, speaks to ABC News on August 26, 2022 about a child who contracts monkeypox.

Dr. Danielle Zerr, medical director of infection control at Seattle Children’s Hospital, speaks to ABC News on August 26, 2022 about a child with monkeypox.

ABC News

“I think the thing we’re focusing on is that there have been very few pediatric cases so far,” Zerr said. “It usually requires closer contact, so it’s not the kind of disease that’s likely to be transmitted in a school setting…It’s a very, very low risk for kids going about their usual activities like going at school and other activities like that.”

If a child was exposed to monkeypox, Zerr advised parents to stay in contact with their child’s pediatrician and be on the lookout for any suspicious rashes.

“If you know your child has been exposed to a confirmed case of monkeypox, then you really want to monitor them very closely,” Zerr said. “I think that would be a reasonable strategy to keep your child home if they develop new signs and symptoms of illness. And then if they develop a rash, especially a pustular rash, contact the care provider. your child’s primaries.

So far, the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak have been found in gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men. However, health officials have repeatedly stressed that anyone can get the virus, and while the risk of monkeypox remains low in young children and adolescents, they too can test positive if they have been tested. exposed.

Worldwide, more than 47,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported, including 17,400 cases in the United States – the most of any country, according to the CDC.

Monkeypox is primarily spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the lesions or bodily fluids of infected people, according to the CDC. The virus can also spread through bedding and towels contaminated with infected lesions.

In addition to lesions, which can appear as pimples or blisters, the most common symptoms associated with monkeypox are swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches.

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