Urgent need to treat monkeypox in the US
The White House declared a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak on Thursday, Aug. 4, which should free up funds, facilitate data collection and deploy more staff to fight the disease.
Experts had said that with more than 6,600 cases nationwide, about a quarter of them in New York State alone, action needed to be taken quickly to control the outbreak until it was more widespread.
“We are ready to kick our response to the virus up a notch, and we call on all Americans to take monkeypox seriously and do what is necessary to help us fight the virus,” said U.S. Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra.
This Thursday, Aug. 4, an emergency is in effect for 90 days and can be renewed.
Unfortunately, experts fear that the actual number of cases may be much higher due to sometimes very subtle symptoms, including superficial lesions that can be seen as similar to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), a category that monkeypox does not fit into.
To treat the outbreak, the federal government provided about 600,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic. It marketed as Jynneos in North America and Imvanex in Europe initially developed for smallpox.
But this number is still far from the country’s 1.6 million people considered at high risk. A health ministry official said that the next shipment (150,000 doses) will not arrive in the United States until September due to logistical problems.
The Department of Health said last week that 99% of the cases in the United States are among men who have sex with men. Despite the risk of stigmatization, this population is the priority target for vaccination.
They are also a priority for prevention actions organized by the authorities, aimed at establishing a better knowledge of the symptoms and suggesting reducing the number of sexual partners between now and their vaccination.
Approximately 14,000 doses of an antiviral developed initially for smallpox, tecovirimat, have been delivered, although its effectiveness against monkeypox is not yet well known.
Unlike previous outbreaks in Africa, this new monkeypox epidemic is primarily transmitted through sexual contact. Still, U.S. health officials (CDC) say other routes are possible, including bed-sharing, clothing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.
The disease has affected a small but growing number of women and children.
There have been no reported deaths from the disease in the United States, but some patients have had to be hospitalized to cope with severe pain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) triggered its highest alert at the end of July to reinforce the fight against monkeypox.
On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was studying the possibility of allowing health care providers to administer five doses of vaccine from one by changing the way it is injected.
The first symptoms of monkeypox are high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a chickenpox-like rash.
Leave a Reply