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Monkeypox Infections On the Rise

The reported number of cases is 70% more than this time last year

Monkeypox Infections On the Rise

The virus that spread among gay and bisexual men over the last two years has almost doubled in 2024.

Monkeypox – dubbed “mpox” by the World Health Organization – is endemic in parts of Africa but spread rapidly through Europe and North America in 2022. The virus was predominately transmitted among members of the gay community and among men who have sex with other men. At least 58 deaths were attributed to monkeypox in 2022.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more cases of the illness have been reported in the United States this year than in all of 2023. At least 582 cases of monkeypox have been documented during the first three months of 2024 while 299 cases were recorded during all of 2023.

The greatest concentration of cases, 185, has been reported in the Middle Atlantic region which includes New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The total number of U.S. cases in 2023 was a fraction of the more than 32,000 cases reported in 2022 and seemed to indicate the crisis was subsiding. Between 2022 and 2023, more than 90,000 cases were reported globally in countries that had no previous history of monkeypox while just over 2,430 cases were reported in countries with a history of the illness.

Monkeypox is genetically similar to the smallpox virus. During the global outbreak of the illness, governments began to encourage those at risk to get the smallpox vaccine to avoid contracting the disease. 

The outbreak subsided through outreach and awareness as well as the use of the two-dose smallpox vaccine Jynneos, though access to this shot was hindered at first by limited supplies and poor planning,” reports The Hill. “The public health emergency declaration for the mpox outbreak was allowed to expire in January 2023. Cases of mpox never quite reached zero, however, with the virus continuing to linger in the U.S.”

The Biden administration invested $11 million into the production of a vaccine for monkeypox in August of 2022 – three months after the first case was documented in the U.S.

Individuals who contract monkeypox develop a rash on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or genital area. The rash may initially look like pimples or blisters and can develop scabs before healing. Other symptoms of the virus include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches. The rash typically appears one to four days after the onset of the flu-like symptoms. Mpox has an incubation period of three to 17 days during which an infected person may feel fine.

The WHO, which named monkeypox “mpox” in November 2022, cited concerns about discrimination and the use of “racist and stigmatizing language” online.

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