(CMR) The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday as more than 6,600 probable or confirmed cases have been detected since the first case in May. There are cases in every state except Montana and Wyoming.
The declaration is expected to facilitate access to emergency funds, allowing health agencies to collect more data about cases and vaccinations, accelerate vaccine distribution and make it easier for doctors to prescribe treatment, NBC News reported.
“We're 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,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a Thursday briefing about the emergency declaration.
A quarter of US cases are in New York, which declared a state of emergency last week, and California and Illinois followed with emergency declarations on Monday. The World Health Organization also declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern last month.
According to reports, monkeypox is spreading predominantly through male-to-male sexual contact, which was not the case in previous outbreaks of the virus. All but 1% of monkeypox cases so far are people who were assigned male at birth, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.
The CDC has also recorded five cases in children: two in California, two in Indiana, and an infant who is not a US resident tested positive in Washington, DC. As of last week, white people represented 37% of US monkeypox cases, followed by Hispanic or Latino people (31%), Black people (27%), and Asian people (4%), according to HHS.