Monkeypox cases continue to climb in FL; CDC launches testing through vendor

By: - July 6, 2022 2:11 pm

Monkeypox virus. Credit: CDC.

As monkeypox cases continue to rise in Florida, federal health officials on Wednesday expanded testing through a major commercial laboratory.

The move is part of the Biden administration’s response to the threat of a disease that can cause a characteristic rash and other symptoms.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that Labcorp, the Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, will begin testing for monkeypox at its largest facility in the nation using the CDC’s orthopoxvirus test, according to a CDC press release.

An image in 1997 taken during an investigation into an outbreak of monkeypox, which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The virus has now expanded globally. Credit: CDC

The agency added that Labcorp will be able to accept specimens from across the country and anticipates the ability to perform up to 10,000 tests per week, doubling existing capacity.

“The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is a key pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease,” Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said in a written statement. “This will not only increase testing capacity but will make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-lab relationships.”

Monkeypox disease continues to circulate throughout the state, nation, and worldwide, with Florida among the states with the most cases.

71 cases in Florida

Overall, Florida has detected 71 cases across 10 counties, with the most in South Florida, according to data from the Florida Department of Health. Broward County has reported 40 cases and Miami-Dade has reported 14.

Nationwide, California has seen the most monkeypox cases (111), followed by New York (96), according to the latest data from the CDC. There have been 6,924 cases in 52 countries, the CDC reported, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that states will immediately receive vaccines and the agency will deploy “FDA-cleared orthopoxvirus tests” to major commercial laboratories to boost testing capacity, according to a memo by federal health officials.

CDC officials advise that anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should consult with their health care provider about whether to get tested for monkeypox.

“Health care providers, nationwide, can order the orthopoxvirus test from Labcorp just as they normally would order other tests,” according to the CDC. “The public will not be able to go to a Labcorp lab and submit a specimen.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.