US Boosting Nationwide Monkeypox Testing Capacity Amid Outbreak

Monkeypox testing could soon become more readily accessible in the U.S. as Sonic Healthcare USA (Sonic) has begun testing for the monkeypox virus using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC’s orthopoxvirus test.

The orthopoxvirus test detects most non-smallpox related orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox. Sonic will offer this test at Sonic Reference Laboratory in Austin, Texas. The lab will now be able to accept specimens through its network of clinical laboratories across the country and test them for monkeypox. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said this is a crucial step in the fight against the monkeypox spread. Making this test more accessible to the public would allow clinicians to monitor the situation and keep track of the cases. 

“The ability of commercial laboratories to test for monkeypox is an important pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease. This will not only increase testing capacity but also make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-laboratory networks,” Walensky said in a press release

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) named five commercial laboratory companies that would soon begin offering monkeypox testing service. They were Sonic Healthcare, Quest Diagnostics, Aegis Science, Labcorp, and Mayo Clinic Laboratories. 

The CDC previously shipped the tests to the laboratories, so their employees could be trained well on their administration before introducing the service to the public. As of late, all of the commercial labs have increased their testing capacity from 6,000 to 80,000 specimens per week. 

“All Americans should be concerned about monkeypox cases. Thankfully, we have right now the tools to fight and treat cases in America. 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,” HHS secretary Xavier Becerra said.

Since the start of the monkeypox outbreak, the CDC has been working closely with clinicians to ensure that they are expanding the use of testing to better monitor the situation. Anyone with any of the hallmark symptoms of the monkeypox infection are encouraged to get tested.

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