America is set to have the worst monkeypox outbreak in the world within days, statistics suggest as cases surge amid ramped up testing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detected 3,487 cases of the tropical disease as of Tuesday, behind only Spain with 3,596 confirmed infections.
Infections in the U.S. are rising by 216 per day on average — compared to 108 in Spain — pointing to the country likely overtaking its European peer at some point this week.
Dr Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, told DailyMail.com that the surge in testing was picking up transmission chains that had continued uninterrupted for ‘some time’. He said it was ‘reasonable’ to suggest the outbreak in America will ‘outpace’ those elsewhere.
The U.S. population is seven-times that of Spain’s — with 329million inhabitants — and the country also now carries out more testing than many others, which is set to push its cases tally ahead of those in other nations.
The above graph shows the cumulative tally of cases in the US, and the current total compared to that in other nations worldwide. The US only reports cases during weekdays, and not at weekends. Its latest figure is for July 25, while that for Spain — which has the largest outbreak — is for July 22.
The above map shows monkeypox cases across the U.S., as reported to the CDC. Only four states — Maine, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming — are yet to pick up the virus
The United States has been updating its monkeypox tally every weekday, with the latest figures up to July 25.
But Spain has been publishing its tallies every two to three days, with the latest data only from the date July 22. On July 19, Spain reported 3,125 cases.
DailyMail.com averaged the daily rise in cases over the latest seven days available, to calculate how fast they were ticking up every 24 hours.
This revealed that America’s tally is currently rising about twice as fast as Spain’s, suggesting it will soon overtake the country.
Among other nations in Europe that previously topped the chart — including the UK — experts have recently suggested that their outbreaks may have peaked.
Asked whether the U.S. would soon have the worst outbreak, Hanage said: ‘The U.S. was slow to kick off widespread testing, and so now is detecting transmission chains that have been carrying on uninterrupted for some time. We don’t know how much increased awareness, especially in the core communities of gay and bisexual men, will slow transmission down.
Washington D.C. joins New York city in delaying second monkeypox jabs
Washington D.C. has postponed its roll out of second doses of the monkeypox, joining New York City.
Its Department of Health revealed the move Monday, citing ‘very limited’ supplies of the jabs and a fast increase in cases.
They said: ‘This is extremely important because getting more individuals vaccinated with their first shot will help us contain the virus.’
America is rolling out the two dose Jynneous vaccine to fight monkeypox, with the second dose due to be given four weeks after the first.
But some experts say it is possible to widen the gap — as was done with the Covid vaccine in other countries — to ensure more people can be inoculated first.
A Food and Drug Administration vaccines adviser has warned against the move, however, saying no studies have been carried out to determine whether it will ensure the jabs are still effective.
Both New York City and Washington D.C. are offering monkeypox jabs to gay or bisexual men with multiple sexual partners.
‘But it is reasonable to suggest that the U.S. case count will continue to grow and will outpace the outbreak’s elsewhere.’
When the outbreak began in May the CDC was carrying out about 23 tests a day, as it struggled to get swabbing off the ground. Many medics also complained that they were not accepting samples from suspected cases because of stringent guidance.
It took more than a month for five commercial laboratories to be signed on and guidance to be loosened, allowing more tests to be carried out.
The CDC says this allowed it to expand testing capacity from 10,000 to 80,000 swabs a week.
Daily tallies have rocketed since, with the biggest daily increase yet reported last Thursday with 298 cases spotted within 24 hours.
Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday another 596 cases were recorded — or 198 per day —, CDC figures show, but capacity is generally lower on weekends because many people are away from their desks.
Breaking the data down by area shows New York City currently has the largest outbreak at 1,040 confirmed infections. It is followed by California, at 356, and Illinois, with 341.
Only four states — Maine, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming — are yet to detect a single infection with the disease.
America initially focused on contact tracing efforts to get the upper hand over the disease, and vaccinated close contacts of positive cases.
But as more and more infections were spotted with no links to known cases, New York City and Washington D.C. started offering the jab to all gay or bisexual men with multiple sexual partners every two weeks to help curb the spread of the virus.
The rollouts have been buffeted by a lack of supply, however, with appointments in New York repeatedly running out within minutes of going online. Both cities have now postponed second doses — due four weeks after the first — so they can get out more first time vaccinations.
It is not clear whether other states will also start vaccinating the group — where most cases are being detected — to get a handle on the outbreak.
Monkeypox is normally confined to West Africa, but earlier this year it was picked up at a Pride festival in Spain.
Since then more than 40 countries worldwide — mostly in Europe — have spotted cases of the disease, which are mostly among gay or bisexual men.
Unlike in previous outbreaks, the disease appears to mostly be spreading via sexual contact with lesions — which allow transmission — initially appearing on the genital and anal regions.
Experts say the disease has likely already spilled over into other groups, however, which are more at risk. In the U.S., two children were found to have been infected last week.