Monkeypox testing expands with launch of first commercial lab

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Testing capacity for monkeypox in the United States doubled this week after Labcorp rolled out its own commercial testing on Wednesday. 

The clinical laboratory network will take in specimens from all over the United States and be able to process up to 10,000 tests a week at their main lab in North Carolina.

“The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is a key pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. “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 tests

FILE: Photo illustration showing positive monkeypox tests.  (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo / Reuters)

Health care providers can order tests for monkeypox directly from Labcorp, allowing people to give samples at local clinics. 

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Monkeypox, a virus similar to smallpox but with less severe symptoms, first hit the United States in mid-May after Massachusetts detected a case

Since then, more than 600 cases have been detected across dozens of states, according to the CDC. 

Monkeypox symptoms

Pictures showing examples of rashes and lesions caused by the monkeypox virus are seen in this handout image obtained from official Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on July 1, 2022.  (K Health Security Agency/CDC/Handout via REUTERS  / Reuters)

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Worldwide, more than 6,000 cases have been reported in 58 countries. 

“Testing remains a challenge and it’s highly probable that there are a significant number of cases not being picked up. Europe is the current epicenter of the outbreak, recording more than 80% of monkeypox cases globally,” World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

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