HEADS UP!!^Pox-Like Outbreak Reported CDC Issues Alert
- HEADS UP!!^Pox-Like Outbreak Reported CDC Issues Alert by #164841
HEADS UP!!^Pox-Like Outbreak Reported CDC Issues Alert
Pox-Like Outbreak Reported
19 Ill in Midwest; CDC Issues Alert
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 8, 2003; Page A01
At least 19 people in three Midwestern states have contracted a disease related to smallpox, marking the first outbreak of the life-threatening illness in the United States, federal heath officials said yesterday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concerned that the illness could spread, issued a nationwide alert to doctors and public health officials to be on the lookout for more cases.
"We have an outbreak," said James Hughes, director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. "I'd like to keep it relatively small. I don't want any more cases. We're doing everything we can to try to contain this."
The disease, known as monkeypox, usually only occurs in central and western Africa. It is caused by a virus known as an orthopox virus, which is the family of viruses that includes the smallpox virus, one of the most dangerous diseases known to man and a feared biological weapon.
Officials said there was no indication that bioterrorism was involved. The disease was apparently spread by a type of rodent known as a prairie dog, which have become popular as pets. The animals may have acquired the infection from another creature, known as a Gambian giant rat, sold by the same dealer of exotic animals, officials said.
The monkeypox virus causes symptoms that are very similar to smallpox -- fever, headache, cough and an extremely painful rash of pus-filled sores that spreads across the body.
While much about monkeypox virus is unclear, it is not believed to be as deadly as smallpox. Monkeypox is believed to have a mortality rate of between 1 percent and 10 percent, compared with a mortality rate of about 30 percent for smallpox.
The monkeypox virus is believed to spread through physical contact with a sick person or infected animal, or through infected body fluids, although it is not believed to be as easily spread as smallpox, which is highly infectious.
Monkeypox is untreatable, although there is some indication that an antiviral drug may have some usefulness. Because the disease has never been seen before in this part of the world, the severity of the threat is not completely clear. All patients and infected animals have been isolated to prevent spread of the disease. The smallpox vaccine is believed to be protective against the monkeypox virus. The federal government recently launched a campaign to vaccinate thousands of emergency workers against smallpox so the country would be prepared in the event of a bioterrorist attack.
"This is an unusual event. As far as we can tell, there's never been a human or animal illness in the community setting in the Western hemisphere by a virus that is either a monkeypox virus or a very close variant of the monkeypox virus," said Hughes, who held a hastily arranged telebriefing last evening to announce the outbreak after CDC scientists confirmed that a monkeypox virus or one very close to it was involved.
"We've got a disease that's not been seen before in the Western Hemisphere, so it's prudent to take it very seriously," Hughes said in a telephone interview after the briefing.
Of the 19 cases reported so far, four of the victims have been hospitalized; none has died, Hughes said.
The outbreak came to light on May 16, when a 3 1/2-year-old child became ill, according to John Melski, who treated the child at the Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wis.
The child's parents had bought two prairie dogs as a Mother's Day present for the child's mother. Both the mother and father subsequently became ill as well, although all appear to have recovered.
Officials determined that the prairie dogs had been purchased from a Villa Park, Ill., exotic pet dealer, who also became ill. The dealer also had a Gambian rat, which was ill. It is believed that animal passed the virus to the prairie dogs the dealer was selling.
The dealer sold the animals to SK Exotics, a Milwaukee pet distributor, which then sold the apparently infected prairie dogs to two pet stores in Milwaukee and at a "pet swap" in northern Wisconsin.
Most of the rest of the cases have been reported in the Milwaukee area, and are believed to have involved people who either worked at the stores or who handled the animals in the stores. Seventeen of the cases occurred in Milwaukee, with one case each having been reported in Illinois and Indiana.
Melski and his colleagues at the Marshfield Clinic contacted state health officials when they identified what appeared to be an orthopox virus in the sick family. State health officials then contacted the CDC, which confirmed the involvement of a monkeypox-like virus yesterday, prompting the nationwide alert and telebriefing.
The state of Wisconsin has temporarily banned the sale of prairie dogs.
"The full impact is hard to predict," said Seth Foldy, Milwaukee's health commissioner. "Our goal would be to isolate and eliminate the virus from both human and animal populations to the best of our ability. We do not know if it is the kind of agent that would or could thrive in North America, and we're not very interested in finding out that it is."
Further tests are planned to confirm the identity of the virus.
The outbreak comes as the global epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appears to be coming under control.
"This is yet another reminder of why it's important to learn as much as you can about diseases that occur in faraway places," Hughes said.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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- Re: HEADS UP!!^Pox-Like Outbreak Reported CDC Issues Alert RN by Karo
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia is not what you might think it is. First note that the first word in the name is not “Center” but is “Centers.” There is no Center in Atlanta that does medical research or cures diseases. What is in Atlanta is merely a government administrative building which administers the many “Centers” throughout the United States. The Atlanta office is funded and operated by the Federal Government. The many different Centers are mostly funded with private grant money from pharmaceutical companies who deal in drugs relating to the specialty of each of the many Centers.
If a Center in Montana, specializing in rare tropical reptilian viruses accidently discovers a new Framawitz Disease and finds that a drug called Gillibrulin will cure it, then the disease and the drug are owned by the pharmaceutical company which privately funded the medical research. The company then has the right to develop and exploit the drug to make billions in profit. Thus the reason for the strange separation between the Federal government office in Atlanta and the many separate privately-granted research Centers around the United States. And the reason for the name “Centers” for Disease Control.
The purpose of the main office in Atlanta is to be a promotional agent and salesman for the pharmaceutical companies who “discover fictitious disorders” at the various “Centers” and then convince you that to prevent Framawitz Disease you need to be on a lifetime dose of Gillibrulin, which you need as much as you need a horseshoe kick in the pants. But the CDC has convinced many people and their governments to pay billions of dollars per year around the world to the drug companies to prevent diseases by just that method. I call it bio-terrorism.
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