During an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) on Monday (May 23), Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior director for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council, said that symptoms within the few monkeypox cases in the states have not been severe.
He also confirmed that all patients in the previous U.S. outbreak of the infection have recovered and credited the access to vaccines and treatments within the country as the reason for the risk of an outbreak within the country being low.
“Historically in countries with weaker health care systems less than 1% of patients have died from this milder strain,” said Panjabi. “We have access to vaccines and even treatments here in the U.S., and so the risk, we believe, is substantially lower.”
While the World Health Organization (WHO) agrees that the risk of an outbreak to the general public is relatively low, there are “still many unknowns” associated with the virus.
“We don’t want people to panic or be afraid and think that it’s like Covid or maybe worse,” said WHO’s Director of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention Sylvie Briand.
Per WHO, cases of monkeypox are “manageable through contact tracing and isolation.” The technical lead for the virus over at WHO, Rosamund Lewis, reiterated that they are monitoring cases and that they are “not concerned” about a potential outbreak.
Thus far, there has been one confirmed case in the U.S. by way of Massachusetts that occured in mid-May. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), others are believed to have been spread to New York, Florida, and Utah but have not yet been confirmed.
“What we’re talking about here is close contact,” said the CDC’s Capt. Jennifer McQuiston. “It’s not a situation where if you’re passing someone in the grocery store, they’re going to be at risk for monkeypox.”