PYEONGTAEK, South Korea (AP) — President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox being identified in Europe and the United States were “something to worry about.”
In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added: “It’s a concern because if it were to spread, it would have consequences.”
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The president was asked about the illness while speaking to reporters at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he visited troops before leaving for Japan to continue his first trip to Asia as president.
“I haven’t been told the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be concerned about,” Biden said. He added that work was underway to determine which vaccine might be effective.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters aboard the flight to Tokyo that the United States has a supply of “vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox.”
“We have vaccines available to be deployed for that purpose,” he said. Sullivan said that Biden was receiving regular updates on the outbreak.
Monkeypox is rarely identified outside of Africa, but as of Friday there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide, including at least two in the United States, and another 50 suspected. Also under investigation on Sunday was a suspected case of monkeypox in South Florida’s Broward County that state health officials said appeared to be linked to international travel.
Although the disease belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, its symptoms are milder. People usually recover within two to four weeks without hospitalization, but the disease is occasionally fatal.
Megerian reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
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