An undated photo of a person infected with the monkeypox virus. President Joe Biden said “everybody” should be concerned about the virus after a confirmed case appeared in Massachusetts. File Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 22 (UPI) — President Joe Biden said Sunday that “everybody” should be alert to the recent outbreak of monkeypox cases in the United States and Europe and stay on top of developments.
Biden made the comments before Air Force One‘s departure from Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. The trip, which included a stop in Japan, was his first to Asia as president.
“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden told reporters. “We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available for it. But it is a concern in the sense that if it were to spread, it’s consequential.”
Monkeypox, a rare virus typically found in Africa, had recently confirmed cases in Massachusetts, along with Canada, Israel and Europe.
The Massachusetts case involved a person who had recently visited Canada. The World Health Organization said it is tracking 92 confirmed cases and 28 possible cases in 15 countries.
On Sunday, Austria, Israel and Switzerland confirmed cases of monkeypox. Israel and Switzerland both identified one infected person who recently traveled abroad. Israel is investigating other suspected cases.
“The situation is evolving and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries,” the WHO said in a statement on its website. “Immediate actions focus on informing those who may be most at risk for monkeypox infection with accurate information, in order to stop further spread.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said there is already a vaccine relevant to treating monkeypox and it is available. Sullivan said he briefed Biden on information he has received from the White House’s health and medical team.
“[We are] walking through with him what the current state of play looks like and, as we learn about cases both in the United States and elsewhere, making sure that he’s tracking the picture,” Sullivan said in a briefing Sunday. “So, he’s being apprised on this on a very regular basis and getting inputs from the key members of his health team.”