The U.S. hits a record 1,424 new monkeypox cases in a single day on Monday, raising fears outbreaks could spread across college campuses when students return to school this month
- The United States recorded 1,424 new monkeypox cases on Monday, the highest single-day outbreak total to date
- America is nearing 9,000 confirmed cases of the virus — the world’s largest outbreak — just as the fall semester begins across the country
- Experts fear behavior on college campuses this fall will open the door for rampant spread of the virus this fall
- Over the weekend, former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb that the virus can still be contained
The U.S. recorded a record 1,424 cases of monkeypox on Monday, the highest total since the global outbreak first hit the U.S. in May. It comes as officials are beginning to raise concerns about the virus, which is rampant on college campuses in the upcoming semester.
Monday’s figures bring the total number of cases in America to 8,934 – putting the US on track to become the first nation to dwarf 9,000 confirmed infections when officials report new numbers on Tuesday. It is likely that these numbers are grossly undercounted due to the lack of testing.
This outbreak, too, could soon worsen. The new school year is slated to begin in the coming weeks at colleges and universities across the United States. Young college students are more prone to reckless sexual behavior, creating a perfect storm for potential monkeypox outbreaks across the country.
Also, unlike Covid in 2020, many universities don’t have specific response plans for the virus – making rampant spread even more likely once the virus is brought onto campus.
“As we head into the fall, I’m concerned about outbreaks on college campuses because it’s often a place where individuals engage in higher-risk sexual activities and are in close contact with a wide variety of people,” said Dr. Rachel Cox, an assistant professor at the Mass General Health Institute of Health Professionals, told CNN.
“We need to make sure we’re ready to provide resources like testing, vaccines and antivirals to places that can become hotspots.”
However, not all experts believe that the outbreak will spiral absolutely out of control.
dr Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration and current board member of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that while it’s difficult, it’s possible to prevent monkeypox from becoming an endemic virus — a prospect the officials probably have failed with Covid.
Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb (pictured) told CBS’ Face the Nation that the monkeypox outbreak in America can still be controlled
However, he says the response to the virus needs to be broader to control it. For now, testing is mostly reserved for gay and bisexual men — who make up an overwhelming majority of cases. Gottlieb believes more cases would be found if testing expanded beyond this community.
“There’s a possibility of getting this back in the box, but it’s going to be very difficult at this point,” Gottlieb said.
“We continue to look for cases in the community of men having sex with men, it’s spreading primarily within that community, but there’s no question that it’s spread outside of that community at this point, and I think we have to.” start looking for cases more broadly.’
While accurate federal data isn’t available, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during a briefing last week that they still make up the majority of cases.
However, America is currently facing a shortage of tests and vaccines, meaning that until now they have been reserved for men who have sex with other men.
The CDC has greatly expanded its testing capacity in recent weeks and is now able to conduct 80,000 per week under its own testing and agreements with private partners.
Last week, Walensky said only about 10 percent of America’s testing capacity was being used, opening the door for a significant expansion in the number of people being tested.
Gottlieb said any person with an atypical case of either shingles or herpes should be tested for monkeypox at this point.
Expanding testing will either find more cases – giving officers more information they can use to control the outbreak – or confirm more people as negative and confirm areas where the virus isn’t spreading.
He also believes the CDC should start with sewage monitoring — which, without individual testing, can give a more general picture of where the virus is spreading.
Despite his concerns, Gottlieb doesn’t think the virus has reached a point where the average American should be concerned.
“I don’t think that’s something that people need to worry about in general,” he explained.
“I think the incidence of this infection is still very low in the wider community. Your risk of coming into contact with monkeypox is still extremely low outside of certain social networks where you see a higher case rate.
“If you’re going to contain it…we need to start looking for it more broadly.”