(CNN)As cases of monkeypox continue to rise in the US, a top health official is stressing that the outbreak needs to be handled in a more rigorous manner.
As Fauci warns monkeypox needs to be taken more seriously, former FDA commissioner says the window to control it 'probably has closed'
"This is something we definitely need to take seriously. We don't know the scope and the potential of it yet, but we have to act like it will have the capability of spreading much more widely than it's spreading right now," Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Saturday.
Former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that it may be too late to control and contain the virus.
"I think the window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed. If it hasn't closed, it's certainly starting to close," Gottlieb told CBS' Margaret Brennan on Sunday on "Face the Nation."
Monkeypox has been detected throughout most of the US, except for a handful of states, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The states with the most cases include New York, California, Illinois and Florida.
The latest data shows that the CDC has tracked at least 1,814 probable or confirmed cases in the US, as of Friday, and a total of 12,556 confirmed cases in 68 countries.
Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN's Laura Coates that the numbers are "very likely an undercount."
"Whenever you have the emergence of something like this, you are always probably looking at what might be -- might be, we don't know -- the tip of the iceberg, so that's the reason why we've got to get the testing out there in a much, much more vigorous way," Fauci said.
Gottlieb echoed the need for testing.
"We're probably detecting just a fraction of the actual cases because we had, for a long time, a very narrow case definition on who got tested and by and large, we're looking in the community of men who have sex with men and at STD clinics. So we're looking there, we're finding cases there, but it's a fact that there's cases outside that community right now. We're not picking them up because we are not looking there."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that there have been eight cases of monkeypox diagnosed among individuals who were female at birth and that no cases have been reported in children or adolescents.
Gottlieb told Brennan that he believes monkeypox "has spread more broadly in the community" and that he would not be surprised if there are "thousands of cases right now."
"Now this is firmly embedded in the community. And while it's not going to explode because it's harder for this virus to spread, it's probably going to be persistent. You'll have this as a sort of a fact of life, maybe spreading as a sexually transmitted disease but also breaking out of those settings," he said.