The U.S. is releasing vaccines that can prevent monkeypox from its national stockpile, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced Monday, after at least one U.S. resident tested positive for the rare disease.
Over 1,000 doses of Jynneos, a vaccine for monkeypox and smallpox approved for adults, are currently in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Strategic National Stockpile, Reuters reported Monday, citing the CDC.
The U.S. accumulated a “good stock” of Jynneos in preparation for possible smallpox outbreaks, CDC disease specialist Dr. Jennifer McQuiston said, according to CNN—even though smallpox has been eradicated for decades.
The federal stockpile also contains smallpox antivirals that, while not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat monkeypox, could be authorized for use under some circumstances, a DHSS spokesperson told Forbes in a statement last week.
The first human case of monkeypox was identified in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and since then, the disease has become endemic in parts of western and central Africa. Some countries that do not usually experience monkeypox outbreaks began reporting a handful of confirmed and suspected cases in May, including up to 30 confirmed cases each in Portugal, Spain and the U.K. and up to five confirmed cases each in Canada and Australia. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported its first monkeypox case of the year: A U.S. resident who tested positive after returning from Canada. The CDC is also monitoring at least six people for potential monkeypox infection after they were exposed to an individual with monkeypox during travel, and there have also been four recent U.S. cases of orthopox virus, the genus of virus that includes monkeypox, McQuiston said Monday. Monkeypox can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract and mucus membranes like the eyes, nose and mouth, and can also be spread through animal bites or scratches. The disease is usually mild and initially causes symptoms like fever and headache, followed by the formation of a rash that can lead to pustules, scabs and discolorations. In Africa, monkeypox can be fatal in as many as 10% of cases, according to the CDC.
Moderna announced on Twitter Monday that it is performing pre-clinical investigations of possible monkeypox vaccines.