Health

“Kids will not be the real risk category compared to their adult counterparts.”

An infectious disease doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital is urging parents and guardians to be aware of monkeypox transmission in their communities in order to manage risk to their kids. 

Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at the hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News on Tuesday that the data for kids and monkeypox in the United States is very limited. 

“We have four cases in this country, so the risk is low,” Brownstein said. “But you do have household transmission. So we will see more kids with this virus.”

The virus is typically spread through prolonged contact with the rash lesions, often through direct skin-to-skin contact. But it can also be spread through a secondary surface, such as shared clothing, bedding, or towels. 

Less frequently, the disease can spread through respiratory droplets, according to the department of public health, but it does not spread through brief conversations or interactions with someone who has tested positive. 

Brownstein said data from other countries suggest that kids under the age of 8 can “deal with the severe consequences of this virus.”

“That can include airway obstruction, scarring of the cornea, pneumonia, sepsis, and remember, there’s no authorized vaccine for our kids,” the doctor said. “So we do have to be concerned. So people that are concerned about their kids obviously need to know what’s happening in their community, especially if there’s increased cases.”

As of Thursday, there have been 115 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Public Health. The monkeypox vaccine is being offered by 13 different health providers across the state to eligible individuals. So far, 4,303 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts. 

Brownstein stressed in his appearance on ABC News that monkeypox is spread through very close contacts.

“So ultimately kids will not be the real risk category compared to their adult counterparts,” Brownstein said. 

At least four children in the U.S. have tested positive for monkeypox. @johnbrownstein tells us how this virus affects young people.

“We have data from other countries that suggests that kids under eight can deal with the severe consequences of this virus.” pic.twitter.com/fDKFeUnt1r

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) August 2, 2022

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fevers, headaches, sore throats, and swollen lymph nodes, but the defining characteristic is a rash that fills with clear fluid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who believes they may have the virus to wear a mask, cover any rash or lesions when around others, and contact a healthcare provider. For more information on monkeypox and how it spreads, visit www.mass.gov/monkeypox and www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.

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