Mayo Clinic starts testing for Monkeypox

There are now more than 8,000 cases of monkeypox across the globe, according to the CDC. Just three weeks ago that number was close to 200. On Monday the CDC and Mayo Clinic announced Mayo Clinic will begin testing for the virus at it’s Rochester Campus, in an effort to expand testing capacity.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported nine cases of monkeypox in the state Monday, but Mayo Clinic will be accepting samples from around the country to test for the disease.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said about the partnership, "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."

"We learned from COVID-19 that it’s really important to have increased testing capacity. And we have people. We have equiptment. We have resources," said Director of Clinical Virology at Mayo Clinic Matthew Binnicker.

Mayo Clinic laboratories expects to be able to perform up to 10,000 tests per week.

People experiencing a rash similar to monkeypox will go to their healthcare provider and get the rash swabbed. Then, the swab will be sent to Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus and handled like a COVID test.

"What we call PCR, And many people have become familiar with that type of test through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the same type of technology," Binnicker said.

The U.S. Has a stockpile of smallpox vaccines that can also be used to treat monkeypox. Monkeypox is a close cousin of smallpox, but is not as transmissible or as deadly.

"The prevention strategies and treatments for monkeypox are somewhat limited and I would say they’re more experimental," Binnicker added of use of the vaccine.

Mayo Clinic says the vaccine, which for now is reserved to those coming into close contact with the disease, is 85 to 90 percent effective.