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Fauci says government must understand 'profound risk' of monkeypox to control spread

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, gives and opening statement during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to Covid-19 and new emerging variants on January 11, 2022 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
GREG NASH
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, gives and opening statement during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to Covid-19 and new emerging variants on January 11, 2022 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Updated July 27, 2022 at 3:45 AM ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, told NPR's All Things Considered Tuesday that, amid early transmission of monkeypox, it's important to understand "the extent of the spread, how it's spread, what population." He said it is a virus that medical professionals understand and one that they have available tools to use, unlike in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with host Juana Summers, Fauci said about 99% of the cases have occurred in men who have sex with men.

"We've got to understand the modality of transmission, the manifestations, also the risk for people like children and pregnant women," he said. "There's really a profound risk."

Thus far, there have been only two cases in children.

Fauci helped lead the battle against HIV and AIDS and said the federal government must combat any homophobic stigma associated with monkeypox by concentrating on the virus itself, not the people who are infected with it.

"You reach out to the community. You make it very easy for them to have access to testing, to treatment, and to vaccines, as opposed to making it a situation where people are afraid to come forward for those types of things," he said.

There are currently 19,188 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the current outbreak, with 3,591 cases in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York had 900 of those cases, and California had the second-highest concentration with 356 confirmed cases.

The CDC said the risk of contracting monkeypox in the U.S. is "believed to be low," but anyone who comes into close contact with an individual carrying the disease is at risk of infection.

The current outbreak is being spread through human-to-human contact. People can develop an infection from droplet respiratory particles by spending too much time face-to-face with a monkeypox carrier, the World Health Organization warned.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
Megan Lim