Biden administration declared the explosive monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on Thursday, paving the way for more resources to slow the increase in cases in the United States, which now total 6,617 in 48 states. No deaths have been reported in the United States.
The country’s cases are part of an international outbreak that the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on July 23.
The global case count is now over 26,000 in 87 countries. At least 10 deaths were reported by six countries. The United States has the most cases of any other country, behind Spain, which has documented over 4,500 cases.
In a press conference Thursday, US officials said the emergency declaration will allow federal, state and local officials to better coordinate and respond to the outbreak.
“We are ready to take our response to the next level”Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said after announcing the declaration of emergency. “We urge every American to take monkeypox seriously.”
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the statement would allow the CDC to mobilize more staff, increase testing and access to care, spur states to share more case data, and contribute to improve awareness of the virus and the outbreak.
Federal officials continue to work to provide vaccine supplies to states and jurisdictions. They have made more than 1 million doses available so far. The introduction of a vaccine has been slow and supplies have not met demand.
Monkey pox: insufficient vaccines
In the briefing, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf noted that the agency is considering allowing fractional doses of the Jynneos vaccine, allowing healthcare professionals to extend the current supply to provide some protection to more people.
With all the efforts planned, “There should be no reason why we can’t keep up with this outbreak”Secretary Becerra said optimistically.
The virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms and painful injuriesit is not easily transmitted from person to person compared to other pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2.
In this outbreak, monkeypox is generally spreading through very close, often intimate and prolonged face-to-face interactions and skin-to-skin contact, such as sexual encounters or between people living together.
The lesions contain high levels of the virus and direct contact with them is the main route of transmission. If mouth and / or throat injuries occur, prolonged and close interaction with an infected person can lead to respiratory transmission.
But the monkeypox virus is not thought to remain in the air or easily spread through respiratory droplets. Brief encounters or being in the same room with someone are believed not to pose a risk.
The virus can also spread to others through highly contaminated surfaces or materials, such as bedding. But again, this is not believed to be a common route of transmission in the outbreak.
The epidemic continues to spread mainly through gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) sex networks.
Although historical cases of monkeypox included an outbreak of lesions all over the body, in this outbreak the lesions often appear first and they are concentrated in the genital and anal areas.
Health experts have called for more intense health responses to raise risk awareness within those communities and help members better protect themselves.
This includes the CDC offering explicit recommendations on how men who have sex with men can have safer sex.
Last week, the general manager ofWHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus advised men who have sex with men to reduce their risk “Reducing the number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to allow for follow-up if necessary.”
Although members of the MSM community are currently at higher risk and many health experts point out that they should be the primary focus of prevention measures, they are not particularly susceptible to infection.
The monkeypox virus it can be transmitted to anyone and health experts fear that as more cases occur, the virus will begin to spread more in different communities and groups, including the most vulnerable: children and pregnant people. The United States has already reported several cases in women and children.
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