The outbreak of monkeypox is a public health emergency in the United States, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said today. The disease is spreading in the US since Mayand cases are increasing worldwide.
“We urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” he said at a news conference today.
The decision to declare a public health emergency follows the World Health Organization’s declaration in late July that monkeypox is a public health emergency of international concern. Some states, including New York and California, have also declared health emergencies.
A public health emergency could accelerate access to existing treatments for the painful disease. Monkeypox vaccines already exist and are in use across the country, but they are still out there A few supplies.
Monkey pox causes a rash and lesions along with symptoms such as fevers and swollen lymph nodes. It doesn’t spread as easily as COVID-19, and so far, experts believe it’s spread mostly through close person-to-person contact. Most cases have occurred among men who have sex with men, although people outside this group have also tested positive for the infection.
So far, over 6,600 people have tested positive for smallpox in the US. Access to testing is still difficult, so this is likely to count. The US is also in a state of public health emergency for COVID-19.