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The risk of monkeypox is higher in children 8 years of age or younger, researchers reveal

London: Children eight years of age or younger should be considered a high-risk group for the more severe disease of monkeypox. This is stated in the report of the researchers. According to the study published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, so far only a few children are affected by monkeypox, but children 8 years of age or younger are at higher risk. Despite the far lower reported rates in children, there are particular concerns about complications and other serious consequences of monkeypox in children.

Dr Petra Zimmermann from the University of Friborg in Switzerland and Nigel Curtis from the University of Melbourne said: ‘There are reports of increased hospitalization rates among children and mortality rates even in high-income countries.’ Based primarily on data from low-income countries, children under the age of 8 are at particularly high risk of complications, including serious bacterial infections. Young children may also be at increased risk of complications related to scratching and the spread of infection to other parts of the body, including the eyes, the researchers said.

Most patients recover with supportive care
As of August, there had been approximately 47,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide. Of these, only 211 were in children and adolescents below the age of 18 years. In the current outbreak, the monkeypox virus appears to be largely spread by sexual or other close contact. The role of other routes of transmission, including droplets and contaminated surfaces and objects, remains to be determined. Most patients with monkeypox recover with supportive care. However, more specific treatment is necessary for severe cases and high-risk groups — especially children under the age of 8 and those with underlying skin conditions, the study noted.

Other vulnerable groups include pregnant women, immunocompromised patients, and people with eczema or a monkeypox rash near the mouth, eyes, and genitals. Smallpox vaccination is effective in preventing monkeypox, although the duration of protection is unknown. Medicines or vaccines to prevent monkeypox have been recommended for children who have been exposed to the monkeypox virus, again with ‘very limited data’. Especially since monkeypox can be asymptomatic, outbreaks can go unchecked and spread to vulnerable groups, including young children.



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