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Medical staff call to be vaccinated against monkeypox after doctor infected

Physician at Tel Aviv hospital infected while examining patient for virus; Health Ministry considers expanding access to shots beyond most at-risk groups

Empty vials of monkeypox vaccines lie on a table after being used to vaccinate people at a medical center in Barcelona, Spain, July 26, 2022. (AP/Francisco Seco)
Empty vials of monkeypox vaccines lie on a table after being used to vaccinate people at a medical center in Barcelona, Spain, July 26, 2022. (AP/Francisco Seco)

Medical staff administering monkeypox tests at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv have requested access to the vaccine against the virus from the Health Ministry, after a doctor was infected earlier in the week while handling a sample, Hebrew media reported on Thursday.

The doctor was wearing full protective gear while testing patients and was likely exposed to the virus while removing his gloves according to an epidemiological investigation, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Dr. Roy Zucker, a specialist in infectious diseases and head of LGBTQ medicine at the Clalit health fund, told the Kan public broadcaster that medical staff should be immunized against monkeypox.

Doctors checking for monkeypox come into close contact with possibly infected patients. However, Health Ministry guidelines determine the highest priority for the vaccine should be men who have the HIV virus or other sexually transmitted diseases, and those who engage in sexual relations with other men, the group most at-risk of catching the virus.

Kan reported that the Health Ministry is now considering expanding the availability of the shots.

According to the latest data from the Health Ministry, 160 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel since the beginning of the outbreak in May, while the World Health Organization has reported over 25,800 confirmed cases across 70 non-endemic countries.

This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue), cultured in the laboratory at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (NIAID via AP)

Monkeypox is characterized by a rash that can look like pimples or blisters, from which the virus can be transmitted, normally through skin-to-skin contact.

The WHO declared the recent outbreak of the virus a global health emergency in July, labeling it an “extraordinary event.”

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