With the ongoing monkeypox outbreak becoming a national health emergency, parents have raised concerns as to how much at risk their kids could be. Luckily, there’s no need to panic just yet.
While it’s true that there are a few confirmed cases of monkeypox in children, Dr. Larry Kociolek, the medical director of infection, prevention and control and attending physician in infectious diseases at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, said the overall risk for children is still exceedingly low.
In an interview with Fortune, Dr. Kociolek said, “Compared to COVID-19 and other childhood viruses, like the flu and RSV [respiratory syncytial virus], monkeypox does not transmit between people very easily. Currently, there are 10 pediatric cases across the globe and two reported cases in the U.S.”
This means the vast majority of rashes in children are from other infectious or noninfectious diseases.
He added that preventative measures for monkeypox are similar to the ones we already do for other common infections. This includes staying at home when sick, frequently washing hands with soap and water, and, of course, avoiding contact with other sick people.
He also emphasized that anyone who suspects having monkeypox should immediately talk to their doctor. With testing more readily available now, it should be easy to confirm whether one has caught the virus or not.
“If you do suspect, or have been told you have monkeypox, the most important way to prevent spreading it is by keeping skin lesions covered and not sharing items that have had contact with skin lesions with other people, such as bed linens, towels and clothing,” he added.
While it’s believed that monkeypox is not as transmissible via the respiratory route as COVID-19, wearing masks and keeping distance from other people are still recommended.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, treatment for monkeypox in children is available, with Tecovirimat being the first line of defense used under an investigational protocol.
The JYNNEOS vaccine may also be recommended for children under 18 exposed to the virus.