Orlando Sentinel | By Caroline Catherman | August 16, 2022
Florida’s first pediatric case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Martin County but astate official said Tuesday that the Florida Department of Health is not concerned about the virus spreading among school-aged children, even as students returned to classes this week.
The child who was infectedis between 0-4 years old, according to the Florida Department of Health’s reportable disease frequency report. No other information as to the child’s identity is available in the report.
This is the seventh U.S. child to have been confirmed to test positive for the virus. As of Monday, eight cases have been reported in the state among 15- to 19-year-oldsand 1,317 cases of monkeypox overall. In Orange County, 82 cases have been detected.
Dr. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, declined to give specifics about the pediatric case during a Tuesday update on the state’s monkeypox response. He said, nationally, most cases in children are due to household transmission.
“We’ll continue to monitor but we just, especially the K through 12, we don’t believe it to be at this time a big driver for this outbreak,” he said.
Monkeypox can infect anyone. It spreads through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person’s rash or bodily fluids, or indirectly through uncleaned surfaces that their rash has touched, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
It can cause flu-like symptoms and rashes that look like blisters. It’s rarely fatal, the CDC says.
Monkeypox germs can be killed through hand sanitizer or disinfectants. The CDC also recommends learning what the rash looks like and checking for it even in hard-to-see places like the mouth, throat or genitals. The CDC also recommends avoiding contact with people with rashes.
To check eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine appointment, visit orange.floridahealth.gov.
As of Tuesday, Orange’s online vaccine eligibility screening questionnaire allows only gay or bisexual men to make appointments.
The criteria come in part because the vaccine used for monkeypox in the U.S., Jynneos, is in limited supply after the Biden Administration adopted a “wait and see” approach and failed to order enough doses in time, the New York Times reported.
The Florida Department of Health is adopting a new vaccination method that recently received Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. In this method, one-fifth of the vaccine is given intradermally — between layers of the skin — rather than a full dose given subcutaneously or under the skin.
People will still need two doses, 28 days apart.
The dosing strategy is based on a 2015 study of 524 subjects. The small sample size has come under criticism by some epidemiologists.
Choe on Tuesday said this method has already proved effective for other vaccines, such as the rabies vaccine. He added this method showed a comparable antibody response to a vaccine given under the skin.
“It’s not a completely unique concept,” he said.