Though still only labeled a “moderate” concern at the global level, the speed at which the current monkeypox outbreak is growing has the World Health Organization (WHO) rethinking whether to declare it a “public health emergency of international concern,” according to media reports.
While Europe has been most affected by the current outbreak, public health agencies are urging all countries to be on high alert as this form of the virus has symptoms different from typical monkeypox cases. According to the most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are now 7,243 confirmed cases of the virus in 54 locations around the world. Even before the increased urgency around monkeypox, companies have been seemingly taking lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to be better prepared for the orthopoxvirus, quickly releasing tests for the virus.
Most recently, US-based life sciences company Labcorp has stepped up to help expand access to monkeypox testing in the nation, announcing on July 6 that it will start testing for monkeypox using the CDC’s PCR orthopoxvirus test. The test—which detects all non-smallpox related orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox—will initially be run at Labcorp’s largest lab in the US, according to the company. Labcorp will then expand testing from that North Carolina location to others on an as-needed basis. Currently the lab has the capacity to take samples from its customers as well as any overflow from public health labs, but plans to eventually increase capacity to a maximum of 10,000 tests each week, which it says “will double the current capacity provided through CDC’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN).”
Those concerned they may have monkeypox can go to their healthcare provider to provide a sample, and the provider will then start the testing process. Healthcare providers can also order the test from Labcorp the same way they would with the company’s other tests, the company stated.