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On Thursday, the U.S. authorities called a health emergency in light of increasing monkeypox cases.
Two weeks after the World Health Organization issued an update on the classification of the monkeypox virus, the U.S. health authorities decreed on Thursday a health emergency in light of an increase in the cases of the virus, despite the disease mainly affecting gay men.
During a briefing, Xavier Becerra, Health Secretary, announced the declaration, urging “every American to take monkeypox seriously.” When the U.S. administration issued the emergency, it could access more funding to counter the effects of the virus, buying vaccine doses to treat the disease.
Last month the WHO decreed monkeypox a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ while the COVID-19 pandemic is only one level above this status. Cities like San Francisco and New York have already installed public health emergencies in light of the outbreaks.
Since May, the U.S. health authorities have reported more than 6000 monkeypox cases across the country, a significant majority contracted by gay men. However, it is still unclear whether the virus is spreading by sexual contact or through the extended contact involved in sexual intercourse. According to WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, men “with multiple sexual” partners are exposed to significant risk, especially those in contact with other people of the same sex.
So far, two children have tested positive for monkeypox in the U.S., according to reports by state and federal officials. Last week the first two cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were “traced back to individuals who come from the … gay men’s community,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
The WHO warned that monkeypox is comparable with human smallpox, eradicated in 1980, which is endemic in some West and Central African regions. Monkeypox outbreaks first reappeared in May in European countries.
According to reports update issued by the WHO, so far 16, 000 cases of monkeypox have been detected in 75 countries across the globe.