U.S. seeks to expand monkeypox testing as cases rise -Breaking
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO, (Reuters) – The United States is working to increase the capabilities of monkeypox testing beyond a small group of public labs. This follows calls by infectious disease specialists who insist that routine care should include screening for this virus.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Waensky stated during a Friday conference call that her agency was working with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase testing capabilities to commercial labs.
A request for more details was not answered by the CDC.
Currently, monkeypox preliminary testing is conducted in the United States through a network 69 public laboratories that send the results to the CDC.
So far there has been 45 monkeypox confirmed cases in 16 U.S. States. Most of the current epidemic is occurring in Europe, not Africa.
The United States have conducted around 300 monkeypox test. Experts in infectious diseases said that although the number of monkeypox tests performed last week rose by almost 45%, this must continue to rise if there is to be an outbreak.
According to Dr. Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “There are not enough monkeypox tests being done in America right now.”
He stated that the commercial labs were used to work with all types of healthcare professionals, including moving quickly samples and reporting quickly results so providers know what they are expecting.
Quest Diagnostics (NYSE 🙂 and Labcorp are two large U.S. commercial testing companies.
Commercial labs must have access to monkeypox to confirm their results, FDA regulatory guidance and CMS-set commercial billing codes. Inglesby is a former White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response.
He stated, “My intuition is that everything is moving forward.”
A detailed analysis of 17 cases was published last week by the CDC. The majority of patients were identified as having sex or with men.
The monkeypox virus was often found in the genital areas. Some doctors may misdiagnose this as a common sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis.
David Harvey (executive director of National Coalition of Sexually Transmitted Disease Directors) stated that “Monkeypox symptoms mirror other sexually transmitted illnesses.” We need to have a larger national response.
Association of Public Health Laboratories stated that it currently has sufficient capacity, and would expand its testing capabilities to commercial labs if the spread of the disease continues.