Joe Biden on Monkeypox: 'Everybody Should Be Concerned'

Joe Biden has said the world "should be concerned" about the spread of monkeypox as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigates cases in the U.S.

Asked about his level of concern over recent cases, the U.S. president told reporters at Osan Air Base in South Korea on Sunday that scientists were working on a response, which he said might include vaccines.

"Well, they haven't told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about. We're working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available for it.

"But it is a concern in the sense that if it were to spread, it's consequential. That's all they have told me."

According to the Associated Press, Jake Sullivan, a national security adviser to the president, told reporters on the flight to Tokyo as part of Biden's Asia tour that the U.S. had a supply of "vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox."

He added: "We have vaccine available to be deployed for that purpose."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

There have been 92 cases of monkeypox worldwide as of May 21, Latest World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Another 28 suspected cases in the outbreak have been in countries not normally affected by the disease. There were only at most five cases in the U.S. at that time.

As more cases are reported daily across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking to understand the role that sexual contact may play in its spread.

"What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread, as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world," WHO adviser David Heymann told Reuters.

In the U.K., Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser of the Health Security Agency, has said a "notable portion" of detected cases have been in gay and bisexual men and so experts "are particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned."

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is typically identified in Africa and was first discovered in 1958. While the origins of monkeypox are unknown, the CDC believes that rodent and non-human primates may harbor the virus.

According to the WHO, monkeypox has similar symptoms to those seen in smallpox patients although it is less severe. The organization added that vaccination against smallpox has shown to be protective against monkeypox.

It is transmitted by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials. The incubation period for monkeypox is typically from six to 13 days but can range from five to 21 days.

Signs and symptoms of the disease include the following:

  • A headache
  • Acute onset fever greater than 101.3°F
  • Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)
  • Myalgia (muscle and body aches)
  • Back pain
  • Asthenia (profound weakness)
  • A rash
Joe Biden speaks in Seoul, South Korea
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event with Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung, rear, at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Seoul. Asked about smallpox, Biden told reporters on Sunday that it is "something that everybody should be concerned about." Evan Vucc/AP Photo

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