Local health officials address monkeypox outbreak

A monkeypox outbreak continues to expand in countries across the world, including in the United States.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A monkeypox outbreak continues to expand in countries across the world, including in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has partnered with state and local officials to initiate an emergency response to the cases. On Friday, top health officials met to discuss how they have addressed the outbreak so far.

“When someone becomes infected, typically, there’s an incubation period ranging between five to 21 days, a prodrome of symptoms such as fever, chills, and a characteristic rash,” said Kaelly Miller, director of health services at American International College in Springfield.

Miller told Western Mass News that although monkeypox cases are expanding into the United States, it is an endemic virus in several countries.

“Endemic refers to a disease or condition that’s regularly found in a certain place or population among certain people, so it’s not common to be in the United States. However, it can travel through infected animals and humans,” Miller added.

Global health officials are on high alert. On Friday, the White House, CDC, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services held a joint discussion about the virus and the action they have taken so far to stop the spread.

“To date, over 120 PCR orthopox tests have been performed across the country,” said Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior director for global health security and biodefense at the White House.

Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, added, “We currently have two FDA-approved vaccines and one FDA-approved antiviral that we are providing to states for treatment of monkeypox.”

According to the World Health Organization, this is the largest outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa. As of Friday, 20 cases have been identified in 11 states and about 700 cases globally. Health officials shared the similarities they are seeing amongst monkeypox cases they have researched so far.

“Most of them reported international travel in the 21 days before their symptoms began and most patients in the MMWR identified as man who have sex with men,” said Capt. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequent Pathogens and Pathology.