Photo: seksan MonKhonkhamsao/Getty Images
Beginning this week, Mayo Clinic Laboratories will begin testing for monkeypox using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s orthopoxvirus test, which detects most non-smallpox related orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the ability of commercial laboratories to test for monkeypox is a crucial component of the agency’s strategy to combat the disease.
“This will not only increase testing capacity but also make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-laboratory networks,” she said.
Mayo Clinic Laboratories will offer this testing at its Mayo Clinic’s Division of Clinical Microbiology laboratories in Rochester, Minnesota, and can accept specimens from anywhere in the country. Mayo Clinic Laboratories anticipates being able to perform up to 10,000 tests per week, which will continue to increase the current capacity provided through CDC’s Laboratory Response Network and Labcorp, which began testing last week.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
On June 22, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that five commercial laboratory companies would soon begin offering monkeypox testing. Since then, CDC has shipped the tests to the laboratories, and their employees have been trained on their administration, among other steps, the CDC said.
This, HHS said at the time, will facilitate increased testing, and leverage established relationships between clinics, hospitals and commercial laboratories. In June, CDC updated and expanded the monkeypox case definition, and continues to encourage healthcare providers to consider testing for all rashes with clinical suspicion for monkeypox.
Providers who see a patient with a rash that resembles monkeypox, or that might be more characteristic of more common infections such as varicella zoster, herpes zoster or syphilis, should carefully evaluate the patient for monkeypox, and should consider testing. Anyone who has risk factors for monkeypox and a new rash should seek care and testing, CDC said.
THE LARGER TREND
Luckily, there is a low risk of transmission of monkeypox in healthcare settings, according to a June study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston combed through the literature over the past two decades on monkeypox transmission in healthcare settings outside endemic regions to counsel healthcare personnel more effectively. Out of the 12 studies included in the study, the researchers were able to find just one case of a higher risk of exposure resulting in transmission to a healthcare worker.
“However, variable definition of exposure and limited specific details of the circumstances leading to exposure highlight the need for additional efforts to define and characterize exposures to monkeypox in healthcare settings,” the report added.