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Biden on monkeypox: 'Everybody' should be concerned, spread would be 'consequential'

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/22/2022 Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
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President Joe Biden on Sunday said an outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox is a concern because “if it were to spread, it's consequential.”

“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One to fly from South Korea to Japan. “We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, might be available for it.”

President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. © Evan Vucci, AP President Joe Biden speaks before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Japan at Osan Air Base, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, later told reporters the U.S. has vaccines "available to be deployed."

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Sullivan said Biden is getting regular updates from his health team about the evolving situation. 

Nearly a dozen countries are investigating "atypical" outbreaks of monkeypox, a disease that comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox and is typically found in central and west Africa.

The U.S. has recorded two cases — in Massachusetts and in New York City.

Human-to-human transmission is usually considered uncommon. 

Those at highest risk are people who closely interact with someone infected with the generally mild disease.  

The World Health Organization on Friday said it was stepping up efforts to understand and combat it. 

A vaccine developed against smallpox has been approved for monkeypox, and several antivirals also appear to be effective. But according to the CDC, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox virus infection.

The illness usually lasts several weeks and can be fatal.

What we know: WHO convenes meetings, steps up response on 'atypical' surge in monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox 101: Rare case of monkeypox confirmed in England, but risk to the general public is low

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden on monkeypox: 'Everybody' should be concerned, spread would be 'consequential'

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