Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday he wouldn’t be surprised if there are thousands of monkeypox cases in the United States, warning that the window to get control of the virus may be closed.
“I think they’re going to be reluctant to use the word pandemic, because it implies that they’ve failed to contain this, and I think at this point we’ve failed to contain this,” Gottlieb told CBS “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan.
“We’re now at the cusp of this becoming an endemic virus, with this now become something that’s persistent that we need to continue to deal with,” he added.
Although cases have primarily been detected among men who has sex with men, Gottlieb says the virus has “spread more broadly in the community,” and the current reported trends are in part because testing has focused on sexual health clinics.
“We’re probably detecting just a fraction of the actual cases,” he said.
“I think the window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed, and if it hasn’t closed, it’s certainly starting to close,” he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified 1,814 monkeypox cases in 43 states as of Friday.
Many localities have begun vaccination campaigns for at-risk individuals, using existing smallpox vaccine doses that have been shown to help prevent monkeypox, but local leaders like Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) have said many more doses are needed.
Monkeypox spreads through close contact with an infected animal or person, generally through lesions, body fluids, contaminated materials and respiratory droplets. Those droplets can only travel up to a few feet and usually require prolonged contact for transmission.
Patients usually first experience symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and swelling of the lymph nodes.
Within one to three days after initial symptoms, infected individuals develop a rash that typically spreads from the head to other parts of the body.