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"Understanding Monkeypox in Children: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention"

Updated: Mar 23

Monkeypox Risk for Kids: What Parents Should Know

  • Children under 8 years old may be at increased risk for severe outcomes of the virus.

  • Monkeypox has spread mainly through close contact. Respiratory transmission is less common.

  • The vast majority of cases have been in adults.

Monkeypox cases are spreading mostly among adults, but two cases in paediatric patients in the U.S. may have made many parents concerned about the risks for children.

The two new cases of monkeypox in children have been identified in a toddler from California and an infant who is not a US resident but was tested while in Washington, DC.

These unrelated and isolated patients are secondary to household transmission or when someone else in the home unintentionally passes it along to a child. So far the disease, which spreads through close contact, has spread almost exclusively among adults.

Although the most common way to get monkeypox in this outbreak has been through intimate contact, it is possible to get this condition through close contact such as a parent hugging or kissing a child. It is the close contact that matters most in disease risk.

Gay and bisexual men have been the group most likely to develop the disease at this point. The disease spreads primarily through close contact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Disease (CDC) has determined that children under the age of eight may be at an increased risk for severe outcomes from monkeypox if they develop the disease. This is likely due to a less developed immune system.

It is believed that the symptoms of monkeypox in children are the same as adults. While there are not many details regarding these two children or how it spread to them, the virus has likely spread through close contact such as a parent or guardian hugging or kissing as direct contact with lesions. Although less common, respiratory transmission is also possible.

The illness typically begins with flu-like symptoms – fever, headache, sore throat, cough – and within a few days the rash appears. These lesions appear as bumps that become fluid-filled sores located on the face, arms, legs, and hands. If a person was infected during sexual contact, the lesions could appear on the genitals. However, not all these symptoms will be present, and in some cases, people may only experience a rash throughout their body.

The WHO recently determined that monkeypox is now a global health emergency. The last time this designation was given to an illness was on January 30, 2020, with COVID-19.

Despite this label, this does not mean the virus is deadly, but rather a virus that is quickly spreading throughout multiple populations throughout the world.

Cases throughout the world have been rising steadily with almost every state now having confirmed cases of monkeypox.

As the number of cases of monkeypox are increasing, it is not a surprise that we are now seeing cases in children, and although more cases are being reported, it remains uncommon and the risk of acquiring it is low, so we do not need to be worried at the present moment.

Among these thousands of cases, only the two cases in California and Washington D.C. have been identified in children.

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