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Monkeypox Testing Network Expansion Considered

US federal health officials are considering expanding the testing network for monkeypox, according to Stat News.

The World Health Organization says about 200 cases of monkeypox have been detected outside of West and Central Africa, where it is endemic, the Guardian notes. This includes cases in the US, UK, Australia, and elsewhere.

In the US, swabs for monkeypox are first sent to state or local labs for testing and then on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation, Stat News says. But this approach, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn criticism for leading to a lag time in detecting infections and thus allowing monkeypox to spread, it says, adding that officials say they are considering suspected cases as presumptive positives for the purposes of contact tracing and clinical care.

Still, Stat News says officials are weighing whether to extend that testing capability to other labs. The Association of Public Health Laboratories' Chris Mangal tells it that that move might not yet be necessary, unless the outbreak also gets larger.

"It's not an easy matter to shift the tests out to the states," the CDC's Jennifer McQuiston adds, according to Stat News. "And I think we're actively exploring what it would take. I'll just tell you that we're committed to, if it's possible, doing it as quickly as we can."