As of July 30, 2022, Approximately 2 years after the coronavirus pandemic has reached the entire world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the monkeypox virus a global health emergency. This is the highest-level deterrent the virus has been given. The virus is also now spreading in places that it has not been seen before. Here is all you need to know about monkeypox spreading through the United States. (1)
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus spread through close contact, mainly skin-to-skin contact or particles of the virus being left on things like bed sheets, silverware, or anything that is usually touched and handled with your hands. The monkeypox virus is a part of a family of viruses known as the variola virus, the virus known to cause smallpox. Smallpox has been exterminated around the globe but its counterpart monkeypox has not.
Monkeypox has not been seen in such huge quantities since 2003 when a shipment of animals from Ghana imported to texas introduced the virus to the United States. (3) Monkeypox does not destroy the inner workings of the body, but it results in a rash on the face, body, or genital area of the body. These are the only symptoms to appear shortly after a fever and weakness of the body.
Reported complications are severe pain, so severe that admission to a hospital is necessary. Monkeypox is not fatal but contains risks for the elderly and the young. On rare occasions, lymph nodes can swell and severe complications can arise from that, resulting in death.
How can I prevent the spread?
As stated before monkeypox is spread through close contact, skin-to-skin contact. It is also spread through clothing that has been in contact with particles of the monkeypox virus. This can be from someone touching a sheet or piece of clothing that is infected with the virus and does not have clean hands, or even particles that have been breathed out or similarly affected through touch or aerosol. This is usually through direct contact with bodily fluids or areas of the skin infected with monkeypox. The only way to prevent yourself is to limit direct contact with others and wear protective equipment such as a mask.
A mask will limit the risk of getting infected by respiratory droplets containing the virus. Combine masking with heavy sanitization of areas touched in any way, such as bedding, door handles, and kitchenware, anything touched should be sanitized each use and vigilantly used. So, practice good hygiene by not touching anyone who you suspect has a monkeypox, and avoid sharing utensils. Someone showing symptoms of monkeypox is more likely to shed more of the virus through respiratory droplets and the areas infected. One precaution limiting the spread is to self-isolate and cover the skin infected with the monkeypox if you begin showing symptoms. It is also important to isolate them from pets because the virus was primarily spread from animals.
Am I at risk?
Anyone who comes into close contact with others is at risk of getting the monkeypox virus. By preventing the skin-to-skin contact with others you lower the risk of getting monkeypox by a large amount. As revealed by the CDC, most cases are found by men who have sex with men, but everyone no matter their sexual orientation is still at risk if they are in close contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
The CDC also released data on 8/22/2022 that discloses that most monkeypox cases in the United States are found in men ages 31 to 35. While it is shown that men are more likely to catch monkeypox, so are individuals who have eczema or skin issues that create open lesions. Individuals with skin conditions similar to eczema are more likely to get monkeypox because of the way the virus is transmitted. People with eczema should be extra careful when outdoors near other people, since no matter their sexual orientation they are at a high risk of contracting monkeypox.
If you think you are at risk for contracting monkeypox or have contracted it, the CDC recommends that you look into getting the vaccine to lower your risk of getting the disease with an 85% prevention rate, or if given within 4 days from exposure to the virus can prevent the onset of the disease. If given after 4 days but within 14 days after exposure then the vaccination may reduce the symptoms of monkeypox. So basically as said by the CDC, the sooner you get the vaccine when exposed to the virus the better off you will be in the recovery phase.
The state of monkeypox in all 50 states
The CDC reports that monkeypox has spread through the entirety of the United States, but luckily with reports of low cases in each state. There are over 15,000 monkeypox cases as of 8/24/2022 in the United States with high-density states being Texas, Florida, California, New York, and Illinois on the CDC confirmed case count map.
As of 8/4/2022, Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency by the Biden administration. This was done to raise awareness of the virus and hopefully provide funding to more resources such as vaccines and education, which have been in shortage for the entire time the virus was reintroduced to the territory. Cases are increasing exponentially but not at the rate the coronavirus has spread throughout the world in 2020. This virus is far less lethal and is an attack on vanity.
In tri-state areas cases remain low and because of that rely on a strategic approach to prevent and vaccinate in efforts to prevent an outbreak. This means in places such as Hamilton County, the public health department is making it a priority who gets the vaccine distributed to them. Healthcare professionals exposed to the virus and individuals at risk of close contact or exposure at the first to possibly get the vaccine.
Next on the list are people with medical conditions such as eczema or similar who can have worse outbreaks if contracted with the virus. Last are men who have sex with men because they make up the majority of cases in the United States. Everyone else can potentially get the vaccine but are less likely to be able to. Everyone interested must fill out a registration form online to be added to a waitlist. The health department will directly contact you if a vaccine is available from then on. This is the public health department’s way of targeting individuals who are likely to get the virus rather than vaccinating every individual, especially when there’s a shortage of vaccines. It is not possible to walk in to the health department and get a vaccine, you must register for the waiting list and then wait to be contacted from there.
Along with the health department creating opportunities for vaccination, they are also partnering with community organizations to inform people about when the vaccines is available for them. “Generally speaking, we’re looking at individuals who have had multiple partners within the last couple of weeks and have had intimate contact with somebody with known monkeypox. They’re currently at the highest risk and so we’re making sure that they have first access to the vaccine. It’s really about equity and making sure that we’re getting the vaccine to the communities that need it,” Greg Kesterman, Health commissioner of Hamilton County Public Health said.
Wyoming gave the final statement on monkeypox on 8/23/2022, marking the official moment when monkeypox reaches all 50 states. Along with this worry about monkeypox becoming a national health emergency in the United States, monkeypox is also becoming a worry among university students and parents of new students. New York has become the state with the most infections, making it a place where university students are primarily worried about getting monkeypox and the closer to endemic coronavirus.
Colleges in DC such as Georgetown and George Washington university are doing their best to keep the spread at bay, and recommending the monkeypox vaccine that the CDC has administered. The CDC has made a total of 1.8 million vaccines available for the United States and are also using an alternative method of injection to stretch the 1.8 million vaccines to reach more people. This includes using ⅕ of the original dose and administering it differently to use less of the dose and boost supply and aid in the fight against this virus.
Colleges and universities are also pushing hygienic practices on campus to protect students and staff during this health emergency. Many colleges continue to use hybrid learning so that students and teachers can take advantage of online resources and in person resources, limiting the face to face environment while still teaching students.
Monkeypox has become a global health emergency ever since it came to the United States from the African regions. In the African regions it is an endemic virus, but when it spread to the United States it has become an emergency as declared by the president. The virus has spread through all 50 states with Wyoming being the last state to be visited by the monkeypox virus. While this virus is not fatal in most cases it brings on rashes and lesions on the skin, attacking the vanity of individuals. This virus can be painful and also bring on body pains, headaches, and fevers. It is mistaken as a sexually transmitted disease spread commonly by men who have sex with men, but that is not true. It is a virus spread mainly through skin to skin contact from the lesions that appear as symptoms after being exposed to the virus upon infection.
The virus is not primarily spread through the air, but is commonly transitted through sex and by men. If you do get infected or are in a demographic that is at a high risk of infection, you can get the monkeypox vaccine, which is the smallpox vaccine that is used for the purpose of protection from the same virus as monkeypox. The sooner you get this vaccine upon exposure, the better. If you get the vaccine within 4 days of exposure, you can prevent symptoms and lower the risk of getting it again. If you get it after 4 days of exposure but within 14 days, you can lessen the symptoms you get and also lower the risk of getting it again.
You can lessen your risk by keeping good hygienic practices and being aware of your surroundings. Prevention is the best medicine in this scenario. The places with the most cases are Texas, Florida, California, New York, and Illinois. If you arrive in these states or live in them, be careful in all settings and pay attention to your local news outlet.
Vaccines are only available for high risk individuals. High risk individuals are people with skin conditions similar to eczema, men who have sex with men, healthcare workers who work closely with the virus, and people in an enviroment where they can catch the virus. Health care workers take priority before all others. If you are high risk, make sure that you sign up to be on the waiting list to get the vaccine and protect yourself.