The rise in monkeypox in the United States and Europe suggests the virus is already widespread in communities, but it is unlikely to cause a major epidemic like Covid, CNBC’s Pfizer board member and former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday. .

“Now that the community has spread, it can be difficult to give it up completely. “I don’t think it’s going to be a major epidemic because it’s a virus that’s hard to spread,” Gottlieb told Squawk Box.

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, which eventually turns into a rash on the body and face. According to Gottlieb, monkeypox is spread through open contact with the wounds of an infected person and has a long incubation period of 21 days or more. He said this means many people can incubate the virus because infected patients probably have not been diagnosed or delivered incorrectly.

Gottlieb’s remarks came two days after U.S. health officials confirmed a virus infection in a man from Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada. The New York Department of Health said Thursday it is investigating a possible case of a person being treated at NYC Health + Hospitals Bellevue.

The monkeypox, which reappeared in Nigeria in 2017, has spread to several countries over the past few weeks, forcing health officials to warn doctors and the public about the virus.

Gottlieb added that there have been many cases of disconnection, suggesting that the spread in the community is “quite widespread”. He said the infection could be much more than what health officials found because she has such a long incubation period and doctors do not yet know how to look for it.

But he said the U.S. just has a low prevalence, which “just gets hard to stop” because it can be difficult to deploy public health measures such as mass immunizations using a vaccine against the virus vaccine.

He noted that the virus is endemic in some countries, and the Democratic Republic of Congo reports five to 10,000 cases a year.

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“This is a problem, not a widespread epidemic at the moment. But it’s just a steady low-level spread, cases that occur here and there, outbreaks, “Gottlieb said.

However, he stressed that the virus could still be dangerous. According to Gottlieb, the death rate from the spread of the strain is 1% to 4%. He described it as a “disabling” virus that can last two to four months, causing fever and wounds.

On Wednesday, the CDC urged clinicians to identify patients with rash diseases that coincide with monkeypox. According to the agency, people suspected of having the virus should be isolated in a negative pressure room – rooms used to isolate patients – and staff should wear appropriate personal protective equipment around them.

Disclosure: Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a member of CNBC and is a board member of Pfizer, the startup for genetic testing Tempus, the Aetion health technology company and the biotechnology company. Illumina. He also serves as co-chair Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ And Royal Caribbean‘s Healthy Sail Panel.

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