The US government is shipping monkeypox test kits to commercial laboratories in a bid to speed diagnoses for suspected cases of the virus that has already infected at least 142 people in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending tests to labs in a bid to significantly expand the health system’s capacity to test for monkeypox.
Previously, testing has largely been confined to public health labs, which nationwide have a capacity of about 8000 tests per week.
“All Americans should be concerned about monkeypox cases,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra 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 disease causes flu-like symptoms before progressing to a rash on the face and body and is commonly found in parts of central and west Africa.
Medical experts are concerned because this year 1880 infections have been reported in more than 30 countries where monkeypox is not typically found.
Most of those cases have been in Europe, with the CDC confirming 142 monkeypox infections in the US as of June 21.
Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as smallpox.
Most people recover from monkeypox within weeks, but the disease can be fatal for up to one in 10 people, according to the World Health Organisation.