Monday, September 25

New York state declares monkeypox an imminent threat; San Francisco issues state of emergency over virus

Public health agencies for the state of New York and the city of San Francisco issued declarations over monkeypox on Thursday to try and cope with the continued spread of the virus.

Monkeypox has now been declared an Imminent Threat to Public Health in New York as infections continue to rise, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the state commissioner of health announced.

“This declaration means that local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional State reimbursement, after other Federal and State funding sources are maximized, to protect all New Yorkers and ultimately limit the spread of monkeypox in our communities,” Bassett said in a statement announcing the move.

And the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency over the outbreak, noting 261 people had confirmed or probable monkeypox infections as of Wednesday.

Susan Philip, the city’s health officer, said the order would allow flexibility as experts anticipate wider community spread. San Francisco has received 8,200 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, intended to prevent monkeypox and smallpox infections.

“San Francisco showed during COVID that early action is essential for protecting public health,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement announcing the declaration.

“We know that this virus impacts everyone equally — but we also know that those in our LGBTQ community are at greater risk right now. Many people in our LGBTQ community are scared and frustrated. This local emergency will allow us to continue to support our most at-risk, while also better preparing for what’s to come.”

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Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City’s vaccination sites, in NY, on July 26, 2022.Mary Altaffer / AP

Anyone who has been in close contact with a monkeypox patient can get infected, but since the start of the outbreak, cases have been largely concentrated among men who have sex with men.

The declarations in New York and San Francisco come after the World Health Organization designated the disease a public health emergency of international concern over the weekend.

Monkeypox is a specific poxvirus that was discovered among laboratory monkeys in 1958. The first monkeypox case in a human was diagnosed in 1970.

The current outbreak has manifested in symptoms of rashes and lesions across the body, including on the face, on the palms of hands and soles of feet, and in an individuals genital or anal regions.

Cases typically last between two and four weeks and people may also develop flu-like symptoms in addition to rashes and legions.

The disease is spread through close physical contact, so public health officials advise against skin-to-skin contact with anyone who exhibits symptoms.

Monkeypox cases have been reported this year in 71 countries where the disease has not historically been reported, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The US has recorded 4,906 cases this year, as of CDC data on Thursday.

Thousands of cases have also been reported in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.

Jynneos is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a two-dose vaccine taken four weeks apart. The vaccine may prevent monkeypox if given within four days of exposure, or at least ease symptoms if given within 14 days.

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San Francisco has stated that it will prioritize vaccines for men and trans people who have sex with men. New York has acquired 60,000 doses, though eligibility and distribution is decided on a local level.

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