LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — As a monkeypox outbreak expands to more than 70 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to declare the disease a global public health emergency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries as of Friday, July 22, including nearly 2,900 cases in the U.S.

Although kids make up less than 1% of the total monkeypox cases in the U.S., a Lynchburg parent tells WFXR News he believes there is still reason to take precaution.

“Anything that jeopardizes our kids’ wellbeing, there’s a problem with all of that,” the father of 12 said

In fact, health officials say those under the age of eight are considered to be at an increased risk for severe cases of monkeypox.

According to the CDC, the virus is usually spread through close or intimate contact with an infected person, but monkeypox can also be contracted from something as simple as touching an object that an infected person previously touched.

For parents of young children, they say this can be particularly concerning, with one Lynchburg father saying that it is worrisome because of how many things kids tend to touch throughout the day.

For parents looking for the next steps to protect their children, the WHO says that vaccines are available, although they do not work immediately.

“It can take up to three weeks for this vaccine to take effect, so being vaccinated does not give you instant protection,” Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the Health Emergencies Programme for the WHO, said.

According to the CDC, some ways to prevent monkeypox include avoiding contact with someone who has been infected; washing your hands regularly; and not touching clothing, bedding, or towels that someone infected has touched.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported a total of 72 probable monkeypox cases — referred to as “orthopoxvirus” on the VDH dashboard — and confirmed monkeypox cases around the Commonwealth as of Monday, July 25. Of those 72 cases, officials say that 54 are from northern Virginia, 10 are from eastern Virginia, four are from northwest Virginia, two are from southwest Virginia, and two are from central Virginia.