The United States recently declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency (PHE). The announcement came during a briefing with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The U.S. has confirmed more than 6,600 cases of monkeypox in 48 states. The PHE declaration by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra is intended to help mobilize more resources to fight the outbreak and strengthen and accelerate the Biden administration’s response to monkeypox.
“Ending the monkeypox outbreak is a critical priority for the Biden-Harris administration. We are taking our response to the next level by declaring a public health emergency.”
– HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra
Overview of Monkeypox
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that monkeypox usually begins with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, chills and swollen lymph nodes. The incubation period from the time of infection to first showing symptoms is typically seven to 14 days, but this range can vary. Monkeypox can spread in a few ways. These include:
- Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
- Contact with respiratory secretions
Although the virus is transmissible, the CDC provides several steps to take care of yourself to prevent getting monkeypox:
- Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
As the ongoing spread of monkeypox has been declared a PHE, federal officials have also expanded vaccination efforts. According to the HHS, over 600,000 doses of vaccines have been shipped to states and jurisdictions.
Public health agencies and officials continue to investigate monkeypox and learn more about its transmission and outbreak. In the meantime, individuals should continue to follow best practices for avoiding the transmission of monkeypox. Stay tuned for further updates. For more information on monkeypox from the CDC, click here.