Monkeypox testing capacity expanded by US amid growing cases

In response to a significant increase in monkeypox cases, the US administration has announced the expansion of monkeypox testing services. As of Thursday, 173 monkeypox cases had been reported in 25 states across the country, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it plans to conduct monkeypox testing at five of the country's largest commercial laboratories, an effort to address rising case numbers, expanding its efforts beyond government facilities.

'However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk,' the CDC said. It is unclear how people were exposed to monkeypox, but early data suggests gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk, noted the CDC.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) met on Thursday to determine whether the ongoing monkeypox outbreak should be categorized as a 'global emergency,' after more than 3,200 confirmed cases have been reported in nearly 50 countries.

The person-to-person transmission of monkeypox is ongoing and is likely underestimated by the WHO director-general, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging healthcare providers nationwide to be alert for patients with rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of travel history or specific monkeypox risk factors, including gender and sexual orientation, reported Xinhua news agency.

According to the HHS, Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare have begun receiving monkeypox tests from the CDC to address increasing numbers of cases.

HHS announced that healthcare providers would have access to the testing services at the beginning of July, and more tests would be available during the month. 'By dramatically expanding the number of testing sites across the country, it will be possible to test anyone who needs to do so,' HHS secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, testing was stymied by supply bottlenecks and regulatory hurdles, causing delays in responding to the crisis. Experts have warned the US to avoid making the same mistakes.

Health organizations are also concerned that the government is not testing enough, which prevents it from accurately measuring how rapidly monkeypox is spreading. Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

A monkeypox case was reported to the CDC on May 17. The disease is usually found in west and central Africa and only very rarely spreads elsewhere. Monkeypox is rare and does not spread easily without close contact, according to the CDC.

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