Illinois day care employee tests positive for monkeypox

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Children and employees of an Illinois day care center are being tested and offered vaccines after an employee tested positive for monkeypox.

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The employee and day care center were not specifically identified, though state and local officials told The Champaign News-Gazette that at this point, it appears that no other staff or children at the Rantoul facility were infected.

Officials did not say how many children may have been exposed to the virus at a news briefing but said Friday that they were screening all children and other staff, and that the building has been cleaned, CNN reported.

The Food and Drug Administration told The Washington Post that it is allowing children who were exposed to monkeypox to receive the Jynneos vaccine, which is currently only available for adults, and works by preventing infection or reducing the severity of symptoms after exposure.

Illinois health officials told The Washington Post that while nobody else has tested positive, between 40 and 50 people had been potentially exposed.

“We hope there are no kid cases,” Julie Pryde, director of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, told The Champaign News-Gazette. “But for all we know, the employee could have gotten it from a kid.”

The United States government declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Aug. 4, which will increase the federal response to the outbreak.

On Aug. 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed 7,510 cases across 48 states, with only Wyoming and Montana reporting no cases.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, according to the CDC. The symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of smallpox, but milder, with the CDC reporting that monkeypox is rarely fatal.

The CDC is currently recommending vaccination for people who have been exposed to the virus or who are at higher risk of being exposed.