The CDC removed a recommendation to wear a mask from its monkeypox guide for travelers earlier this week, saying it “caused confusion,” according to an agency statement shared with MedPage Today.
The guide originally said: “Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.”
But that statement no longer appears in the CDC’s “Traveller Health Notices” for monkeypox.
“On Monday night, the CDC removed the mask recommendation from the Monkeypox Travel Health Advisory because it caused confusion,” the CDC statement said.
The statement added that in “countries where there is a current outbreak of monkeypox, the CDC continues to recommend the use of masks in high-risk situations, including for household contacts and health care workers, or for others who may be in contact. close with a person who has been confirmed. with monkeypox.
The retraction comes as World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said during a news briefing Wednesday that “the risk of monkeypox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real”.
However, it is not too late to turn things around, WHO officials said. “There is still a window of opportunity to prevent the spread of monkeypox to those who are most at risk right now” and control the virus, said Rosamund Lewis, MSc, WHO technical lead on monkeypox, during the briefing.
However, scientists have raised legitimate concerns about the virus becoming endemic in the US by potentially establishing itself in an animal population here. If that happens, the US could face repeated human outbreaks, according to a news article on Sciences.
There are currently no animal reservoirs outside of Africa, where rodents are believed to be the main animal host, according to Sciences.
Questions have also been raised about the modes of transmission of monkeypox, and a recent study New York Times The article noted that the virus can be transported through the air, “at least over short distances,” which is not surprising to infectious disease experts. Although airborne transmission is not believed to be a major factor in its spread, Times He reported that “there are no firm estimates regarding how much it contributes.”
It is widely accepted that the main mode of person-to-person transmission is through very close contact, especially directly with injuries; and that, at least in endemic areas, it is much more commonly transmitted from an animal to a human host.
That’s one of the reasons Grant McFadden, PhD, a virology expert at Arizona State University, said masks probably aren’t needed at the population level yet.
“Masks make sense for people in close contact with people infected with monkeypox, but should not be necessary for general public use to protect against this disease,” McFadden said. medpage today via email.
The CDC did not respond to additional questions. medpage today questions about transmission and masking, but the agency is now tracking and publicly reporting monkeypox cases in the US on a daily basis. As of Thursday, June 9, there were 45 cases in 16 states, according to the CDC tracker. On Wednesday, the WHO confirmed more than 1,000 cases in 29 countries outside West and Central Africa.
Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, deputy director of the Division of Pathology and High Consequence Pathogens at the CDC, told reporters during an Association of Healthcare Journalists fellowship meeting on the CDC campus earlier this week that Canada has switched to a preventive vaccination strategy in certain cases. .
“They recently made a change, because they have a big outbreak in Montreal with a lot of cases … and it’s probably that they had so many cases that they weren’t able to do contact tracing effectively,” McQuiston said.
Earlier this week, the province of Quebec in Canada reported a total of 90 confirmed cases of monkeypox and began offering a smallpox vaccine to certain close contacts of people who had been infected, according to the CBC. So far, 813 people have been vaccinated, according to the report.
“If we see something like this happening in the United States,” McQuiston said, “we might make a similar decision.”
He added that CDC scientists are developing risk models to inform the CDC when it would be appropriate to flip that switch and make the vaccine more widely available.
Amanda D’Ambrosio contributed to this report.