The federal government of the United States declared a public health emergency Thursday to bolster the response to the monkeypox outbreak.
The current outbreak has infected more than 7,100 Americans. At this point, the United States has had no fatalities linked to monkeypox.
The announcement will free up much-needed money and resources to help health care providers fight the virus.
“We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” said the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.
The World Health Organization had already declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.”
That’s the WHO’s highest alert level.
The WHO declaration last month was meant to trigger a coordinated international response, unlocking funding for collaborations on vaccines and treatments.
In reaction to the outbreak of monkeypox, the governors of California, New York, and Illinois have already proclaimed states of emergency.
Public health emergencies trigger grant funding and open up more resources for various aspects of a federal response.
They also allow the Secretary to enter into contracts for treatments and other necessary medical supplies and equipment and support emergency hospital services, among other things.
Public health emergencies are set for 90 days, but the secretary can extend that.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the declaration would also expand the CDC’s ability to share data.
People have been calling for a federal public health emergency for a while, saying it will signal the country that this is a severe outbreak.
The American government has faced criticism for how it has handled the outbreak.
Before spreading to the US, the disease started in Europe.
Today, the United States has the most cases worldwide.
With a lack of vaccines and treatments, the disease is often left to historically underfunded sexual health clinics to manage.
The emergency declaration by HHS comes as the Biden administration also faced criticism over monkeypox vaccine availability.
To make sure they have adequate initial doses, several clinics in large cities such as New York and San Francisco have had to discontinue providing the second dose.
The U.S. government has since distributed 600,000 Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine doses and deployed 14,000 of Siga Technologies’ TPOXX treatment.
They didn’t disclose how many have been administered.
The administration wants to immunize over 1.6 million high-risk people.
Monkeypox was initially discovered in monkeys in 1958, causes modest symptoms in people such as weariness, body pains, chills, fever, pimple-like bumps all over the body, and enlarged lymph nodes.
The typical recovery period ranges from two to four weeks.
In the current monkeypox outbreak, most people appear to be catching the virus from sexual contact.
The monkeypox virus typically spreads between sexual partners.
It can spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact like hugging, cuddling, kissing, and sharing bedding, towels, and clothing.
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