The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the JYNNEOS vaccine to allow healthcare providers to use the vaccine for individuals 18 years and older who are determined to be at high risk for monkeypox infection.
The World Health Organization said June 25 that monkeypox wasn’t yet a public health emergency of international concern. More than 4,500 cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 300 in the U.S. And with public health officials unable to follow all chains of transmission, they’re likely undercounting cases. Everyone should be aware of its symptoms, how it spreads, and the risks of it getting worse.
Q: Should I be worried about monkeypox?
The American public is currently at low risk for monkeypox. It is spreading among men who have sex with men, but it is only a matter of time before it spreads to others. As of June 27, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had reported 10 cases among women. Monkeypox is generally a mild disease but can be serious or even deadly for people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, a fetus or newborn, women who are breastfeeding, young children, and people with severe skin diseases such as eczema.
But monkeypox could become endemic in the U.S. and around the world if it continues to spread unchecked.
Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Public Health—Seattle and King County (PHSKC) announced the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the state. The person, a King County resident, did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home.
PHSKC is working to identify others who may have been exposed. To date, no one who was exposed is considered a possible positive case. Depending on the situation, people who had close or intimate exposure to a person with monkeypox might be advised to get a vaccine for monkeypox. Because of this, it is important to identify people who were exposed.
DOH, local health jurisdictions, and the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC) are coordinating to provide vaccine to exposed contacts who choose to receive it. Vaccines to prevent monkeypox are not recommended for the public.
“Despite the news of multiple cases nationwide, monkeypox is a very rare disease in the United States and the Washington resident who tested positive does not pose a public health risk,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for PHSKC added, “Although I think it’s unlikely that we will have a large outbreak locally, it is possible that there are additional cases in the community. Anyone with symptoms of monkeypox should consult a healthcare provider.”
Transmission of monkeypox requires close interaction with a symptomatic individual. According to the CDC, brief interactions that do not involve physical contact and healthcare interactions conducted using appropriate protective equipment are not high risk.
People who may have symptoms of monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider. Before the visit, they should notify their healthcare provider that they are concerned about monkeypox, and whether they recently had close contact with a person who had a similar rash or a person who has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
More information about monkeypox can also be found on the PHSKC blog.