Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency in Illinois. Here’s what that means for residents – NBC Chicago

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox on Monday to be a public health emergency, designating the state as a “disaster area” for the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois is the state with the third highest number of reported cases of monkeypox, with 520. New York has the highest number of reported cases, with more than 1,300, followed by California, which It has more than 800 cases. reported cases.

Nationwide, there have been more than 5,100 infections.

Here’s what the governor’s announcement means for Illinois residents, and what to know as the virus continues to spread across the state in ways experts say they haven’t seen before.

Monkeypox vaccines

With the announcement taking effect, officials can more easily secure shipments of the monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccine and ramp up distribution to ensure the hardest-hit communities receive treatment as quickly as possible, according to a press release from the Pritzker office.

“Declaring a state of disaster will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to expand vaccine and testing capabilities with the assistance of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and through state and federal recovery and assistance funds,” the statement said. “This announcement will help facilitate complex logistics and transportation of vaccines across the state to efficiently reach the most affected communities.”

According to a July 27 update from the Chicago Department of Public Health, the monkeypox vaccine is still very limited, “although it is expected to continue increasing over the next few months as the United States gets additional doses.”

CDPH also noted that “the vaccine is only available from the national stockpile and federal partners are distributing it to states and cities based on population and number of MPV cases. Chicago received an additional 15,000 doses of the vaccine over the weekend, the largest allocation for the city by far.”

However, CDPH continued, “Many individuals want a vaccine more than they can receive.”

CDPH says the vaccine prioritizes those at “highest risk,” which includes “any individual who has had close physical contact with a person infected with MPV or whose sexual partner has been diagnosed with MPV in the last 14 days.”

The city says that a limited vaccine is available through some health care providers. And that as vaccine supplies improve, more people will be eligible to get the vaccine.

According to public health officials, the full course of the vaccine consists of two doses given at least 4 weeks apart. It takes about two weeks for the first dose to take full effect.

Those at risk

While doctors have said the overall risk to the general public remains low, with transmission often occurring from close personal or sexual contact – WHO’s chief monkeypox expert Dr Rosamund Lewis said last week that 99% of all monkeypox cases are outside Africa. Of those, men had 98% of men who have sex with men — the disease spreads in ways experts have never seen before.

However, doctors assure that the virus does not discriminate.

“MPV is not a ‘homosexual disease,’” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Alison Arwady said. “There is nothing inherent in the biology of the virus that limits it to MSM. The virus spreads through tight-knit social networks; It doesn’t discriminate.”

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, “person-to-person transmission can be through “close physical contact with monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluid or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following face-to-face for an extended period of time.” .

Arwady said most cases “come from more intimate skin-to-skin contact or kissing” and noted that most casual contact and daily activities — including things like shopping in crowded stores, going to a bar or café, riding crowded CTA trains and buses Use of gym equipment or public restrooms pose little or no risk of contracting MPV.

According to Dr. Albert Ko, Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at Yale University, “The bottom line is that we have seen a shift in the epidemiology of monkeypox where there is now widespread and unexpected transmission. There are some genetic mutations in the virus that suggest why this is happening, but we need a coordinated response. world to control it.

Symptoms of monkeypox

Health experts say monkeypox is a rare but serious viral disease that often begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash on the face and body.

Symptoms of the virus range from fever, aches and rashes all over the body.

“Suspected cases may present with early flu-like symptoms and develop into lesions that may begin in one site of the body and spread to other parts,” CDPH previously reported.

The virus causes symptoms similar to many diseases, including chickenpox or smallpox, said Dr. Irfan Hafez, an infectious disease specialist at McHenry and Huntley Hospitals in Northwestern Medicine.

He previously said, “It can look, to the average person, like chickenpox or warts.” “But these[sores]tend to be on exposed areas.”

Health experts have also stated that the disease can be confused with a sexually transmitted infection such as syphilis, herpes, or the varicella-zoster virus.

In the United States, some experts have speculated whether monkeypox is about to become an established sexually transmitted disease in the country, such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.

National response

The Biden administration is considering declaring a nationwide public health emergency in response to the growing outbreak, but has not yet done so. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator, said last week that the administration is looking at how declaring a public health emergency strengthens the United States’ response to the outbreak.

“There is no final decision on this and I am aware of it,” Jha said. “It’s an ongoing conversation, but it’s very active at HHS.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra has the authority to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act. The announcement could help mobilize federal financial assistance for the outbreak response.

Last week, the World Health Organization activated its highest levels of alert, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern.

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