Though the CDC has stated there are no confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus among patients under 18 in Connecticut, a handful of cases involving children have been reported across the country.
Paulo Verardi, associate professor of virology and vaccinology at UConn, is taking on some of the important questions about monkeypox and children and offering his expertise and clarity regarding a topic that has many Americans and parents concerned:
Are children specifically at risk?
A: “Anyone is at risk of contracting monkeypox and spreading it to other people, typically by direct, close contact, such as skin to skin contact. That includes touching monkeypox lesions that sometimes can be hard to notice, or touching and using objects such as toys, clothes, and bedding of someone that is infected.
“In this context, it is important to point out that the virus can stay in the environment without losing infectivity for quite some time. Children are very active, social, and tactile, so spread in settings like schools and day care facilities is something we need to consider, particularly if the outbreak continues to evolve and infections become more widespread in diverse populations.”
Does the disease traditionally present differently in younger people? Is the symptomology different?
A: “In general, symptoms are similar in adults and children, although for this outbreak with this specific strain of the virus, our clinical experience in children is limited because we have had only a few cases so far.
“Rash or skin lesions are typical, and fever and swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) are also common symptoms. However, children may be at higher risk of more severe disease and complications from monkeypox, particularly if they are very young, have skin conditions like eczema, or are immunocompromised.”
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Paulo Verardi is a virologist who specializes in vaccine research and development and is a member of the Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research. Dr. Verardi is available to speak with media regarding virology, monkeypox, COVID-19, and other viruses – simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.