WASHINGTON – The monkeypox outbreak that infected more than 6,600 people in the United States is a public health emergency, the Biden administration declared Thursday, a move that could make it easier to tap funding and deploy federal bureaucracy to fight the once-rare disease.
The statement came more than a week after the head of the World Health Organization said on July 23 that the “extraordinary” situation qualifies as a global emergency.
Although the disease mainly spreads among men who have sex with men, Former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told US TODAY July 21st it’s only a matter of time before the outbreak spreads more widely among the population.
Adams is among those who had called on the Biden administration to take more aggressive measures for the rapidly evolving situation.
The disease, a milder cousin to smallpox, was first found in the United States in May. It is in more than 70 countries.
According to the World Health Organization, Monkeypox is transmitted from person to person, usually through close contact with respiratory secretions, infected skin lesions or recently contaminated objects.
Nearly all cases reported in the US have come through male-to-male sexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccines can be used both before and after exposure to prevent monkeypox, but there are not enough available.
By July 22, the Biden administration had shipped 300,000 doses of monkeypox vaccines across the country.
The disease began to spread while the world was still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox is not a new disease and is not as transmissible. But officials in the fight against monkey pox are facing the same problems they faced at the start of the pandemic.
For example, testing for monkey pox was initially difficult in the US because labs were not equipped for it.
According to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, identifying monkeypox cases through testing and then contact tracing remains key to stopping the community’s spread. Vaccines are also an important strategy, he said when declaring the global emergency.
Testing has been made more widely available and hundreds of thousands of vaccines are being released, according to Ashish Jha, the government’s COVID-19 response coordinator.
The US has more doses of vaccine than any other country and may have more than all countries combined, Jha said.
Symptoms can appear seven to 14 days after exposure and include fever, muscle aches, exhaustion, and a rash that may appear on the body. While it can be fatal in areas with poor medical care, no deaths have been reported from the outbreak in the US.
what they say
“We don’t have the capacity we need,” Adams told the US TODAY, July 21, “but we’re seeing it gradually build up, and experts like me are calling on the CDC and the federal government to do more, to increase the number of tests, to increase vaccines and to increase communication about monkeypox.”
“There is a very substantial increase in response that is happening right now,” Jha said on July 24.
“I don’t know why more vaccines aren’t available,” D-Calif Representative Adam Schiff said on July 24. distribution, and people who are willing and willing and able to get vaccinated have the ability to protect themselves.”
“While this outbreak is currently spreading in one particular social network, I think we have been messaged from the outset that there may be cases that occur outside those networks and that we need to be vigilant and ready to respond.” said Jennifer. McQuiston, the deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Impact Pathogens and Pathology.
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Contributors: Rebecca Morin, Elizabeth Weise.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency