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Massachusetts reports 42 new monkeypox cases, as Biden administration declares public health emergency

Boston Herald - 8/4/2022

State health officials reported 42 new monkeypox cases on Thursday, as U.S. health officials declared the quickly growing outbreak a public health emergency.

The 42 new monkeypox cases in the Bay State is up from 36 cases during the previous week, which had been the state’s one-week record high. The 42 new cases were diagnosed in men within the past week, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

It brings the total number of monkeypox cases in the state to 157 since the state’s first case was announced in mid-May. That first case was also the country’s first confirmed case.

There have been 6,617 reported cases of monkeypox virus in U.S. residents this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a significant jump of 1,978 cases since last week.

“In light of all of these developments and the evolving circumstances on the ground, I want to make an announcement today, that I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox,” Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a press briefing on Thursday.

“We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously, and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” he added.

Robert Fenton, the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, emphasized that monkeypox is “spreading faster than previous outbreaks.”

With the public health emergency declaration, the feds will be able to quickly allocate more vaccines and treatments. The declaration also raises awareness of the virus, and speeds up additional funding.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said officials identified a “potential solution that would allow us to significantly increase the number of (monkeypox vaccine) doses.” Under the proposed solution, a one-dose vial of the vaccine would be used to administer up to five separate doses.

“We believe this could be a promising approach,” Califf added.

The World Health Organization two weeks ago declared the global monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large proportion of the cases.

Transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids and monkeypox sores, by touching items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or less commonly, through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

In many of the recent cases, the locations of the rash lesions suggest transmission during sexual contact.

DPH received its initial allocation of 2,004 doses of the monkeypox vaccine on July 5. The number of health care providers and locations offering vaccination across the state has now expanded to 14, and more than 5,800 vaccine doses have been administered.

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