Skip to contents

CDC Boosts Monkeypox Testing With Cases on the Rise

The agency is partnering with other labs nationwide to address the outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has partnered with Labcorp to expand testing for monkeypox. (Nikos Pekiaridis/Getty Images)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is boosting efforts to offer monkeypox testing. On Wednesday, the CDC announced a partnership with Labcorp to address an increase in cases locally and nationwide.

Labcorp, one of the largest clinical laboratory testing networks in the country, is aiming to administer 10,000 orthopoxvirus tests per week. The test can detect all non-smallpox related orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox. According to the CDC, that will double the federal agency’s own testing capacity. 

The partnership is part of the federal health agency’s larger effort to make monkeypox testing more available. Labcorp is one of five commercial companies — Aegis Sciences, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare — the CDC sent tests to in an effort to make them more readily available for health care providers. 

The news comes as monkeypox cases continue to spread, including in 93 Georgia. The state is in the top 10 for number of cases nationwide, with New York topping the list at 122. According to a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health, all of those cases are in metro Atlanta. The CDC says it’s not clear how patients have been exposed to the virus, but early data suggests that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number.

Unlike COVID-19 testing, which was widely available to nearly every American, anyone who suspects they have monkeypox will have to arrange testing with their health care providers. In Georgia, testing specimens would either go to the Labcorp site or to the DPH lab in Decatur. A spokesperson for the DPH said any health provider, whether private or community health, would be able to order the tests. 

Monkeypox doesn’t spread similarly to COVID-19. The latter is an airborne-spread virus, whereas monkeypox infections come from close, intimate contact between humans and infected animals. While racial data tied to monkeypox has not been released, the virus — like COVID-19 — could end up disproportionately affecting Black people, according to Dr. Nina Harawa of the University of California at Los Angeles. 

“In the beginning with COVID-19, it was actually affecting well-off people more so because they were the ones who had traveled and were more likely to come into contact,” Harawa told Capital B Atlanta. “It very quickly moved into majority people of color populations, low income populations, who had higher levels of exposure because of their jobs or their living conditions. They also had worse outcomes in part because of lower access to care.”

More testing for monkeypox is expected soon. This Saturday, July 9, the Fulton County Board of Health is hosting a monkeypox vaccination event at the Aviation Community Cultural Center, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

The CDC also anticipates additional commercial laboratories coming online and increased monkeypox testing capacity throughout July.