Biden says ‘everybody should be concerned’ about monkeypox

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the state dinner hosted by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the National Museum of Korea on May 21, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. U.S.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the state dinner hosted by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the National Museum of Korea on May 21, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. U.S. Photo credit Lee Jin-Man - Pool/Getty Images

With cases of monkeypox popping up all around the globe, health experts have warned to be cautious of the disease, while President Joe Biden shared Sunday that "everybody" should be worried.

"They haven't told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about," Biden said during his visit to South Korea.

Despite Biden's comments on the virus, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said that the U.S. has a "vaccine that is relevant to treating" monkeypox if it were to become a public health crisis.

In the last few weeks, approximately 80 new cases of the illness have been reported across nine European countries. In the U.S., Canada, and Australia, there have only been a handful of cases, NBC News reported.

Sullivan shared that vaccines are ready to be deployed if needed, and officials at the Center for Disease Control have said that smallpox vaccines limit the sickness' severity, The Guardian reported.

David Heymann, a senior adviser at the World Health Organization, shared that it seems the virus is spreading through sexual contact and warned of cases possibly rising over the summer with major gatherings returning.

"What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread, as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world," Heymann said.

Monkeypox comes from wild animals, including rodents and primates, but can at times transfer to humans. Most cases are traced to central and west Africa. Symptoms include chills, fever, body aches, and fatigue. Severe cases see patients have a rash and pus-filled lesions on the body.

This isn't the first time the U.S. has seen cases popping up last year in a group of people who had traveled to Nigeria. The cases currently in the country are in New York and Massachusetts.

Health experts have warned that the illness isn't on the same plane as COVID-19, being that it is harder to spread, making it easier to contain. However, it is able to spread, primarily through body fluids, The Guardian reported.

At the same time, experts like Stuart Isaacs, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, are perplexed as to how the virus has spread.

"How they initially got infected and why it's all over the place is still a mystery," Isaacs said to NBC.