The Biden administration has started shipping monkeypox virus tests to commercial laboratories.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said it had shipped tests to five commercial laboratory companies.
The companies include Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare.
The department said the labs would “dramatically expand testing capacity nationwide,” noting that health care providers would be able to use them by early July.
Testing capacity through the five companies will be scaled up throughout the month, supporting officials’ understanding of the scope of the monkeypox outbreak.
“All Americans should be concerned about monkeypox cases. Thankfully we have right now the tools to fight and treat cases in America,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “By dramatically expanding the number of testing locations throughout the country, we are making it possible for anyone who needs to be tested to do so.”
The expansion builds on capacities already available within the public health Laboratory Response Network (LRN).
“CDC has worked with the LRN to augment the number of public health laboratories that can perform the test to over 67 laboratories across 48 states and the number of weekly tests available within the LRN to over 8,000 tests per week,” HHS said.
According to CDC data, there are now 156 total confirmed monkeypox and orthopoxvirus in the U.S.
Although the majority of new monkeypox cases have been seen in gay or bisexual men, experts caution that anyone is at potential risk.
People normally become infected with the monkeypox virus through contact with the skin lesions or bodily fluids of infected animals or humans or through contact with materials contaminated with the virus.
Monkeypox, which is related to smallpox, has milder symptoms.
Some of those symptoms include fever, chills, rash and aches, before lesions develop.