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Illinois daycare worker with monkeypox might have exposed children, officials say

Vaccines are being offered to the children under a federal exemption, Illinois authorities said.
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department and the Illinois Department of Health holds a press conference
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department and the Illinois Department of Health holds a press conference on a Monkeypox Case detected at a Champaign County Daycare in Illinois on Aug. 5, 2022.WCIA News via YouTube Live

An Illinois daycare worker with monkeypox might have exposed children under his care, and an exemption was granted to allow those youths to receive the vaccine, health officials said Friday.

The case was reported in Rontoul, a village in Champaign County in central Illinois, health officials said.

The number of children possibly exposed wasn’t clear, but officials said that no other people related to the center have tested positive.

State health director Sameer Vohra said it takes close, personal and sometimes prolonged contact to contract the virus.

“The monkeypox virus is not an airborne virus,” he said.

Though the vaccine is not typically available to children, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing vaccination for those younger than 18 in cases where they may have been exposed to the virus, Vohra said.

"That means that anyone with their guardian’s approval will be vaccinated today," he said, referring to those possibly exposed at the daycare facility.

The current vaccine for monkeypox, Jynneos, is approved in the U.S. for use only in adults. However, the vaccine may be administered in children six months to 17 years old under special circumstances that include possible exposure, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Contact tracing was underway to determine who in recent days may have been around the worker who tested positive, state officials said.

"Anyone with a tiny little suspicion, they will be put in isolation pending results" of monkeypox testing, said Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

On Thursday, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that frees up more funding for testing, treatment, education and research.

Monkeypox is spreading predominantly through sexual contact among men. All but 1% of U.S. monkeypox cases so far are people who were assigned male at birth, federal health officials say.

The World Health Organization is telling men who have sex with men to reduce the number of partners they might encounter and reconsider having contact with new ones.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were at least 26,200 monkeypox cases as part of the current global wave. The CDC says there were 7,102 cases in the United States as of Friday.