Monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency in Illinois. Here’s what it means for residents

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Monday, classifying 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 monkeypox infections, at 520. New York has the most reported cases, at more than 1,300 , followed by California, which has more than 800 reported cases.

Nationwide, more than 5,100 infections have occurred.

Here’s what the governor’s statement means for Illinois residents and what to know as the virus continues to spread across the state in ways experts say it has never seen before.

Monkeypox vaccines

With the statement in effect, officials can more easily secure shipments of monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccines and expedite distribution to ensure communities most affected receive treatment as soon as possible, according to a statement from press from Pritzker’s office.

“The declaration of a state of disaster will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to expand its vaccine and testing capabilities with assistance from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and through state and federal recovery and assistance funds,” the statement read. “This proclamation will help ease the complicated logistics and transportation of vaccines across the state to effectively reach the most affected communities.”

According to a July 27 update from the Chicago Department of Public Health, the supply of monkeypox vaccines remains very limited, “although it is expected to continue to increase over the coming months as states States acquire additional doses”.

The 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 the number of population and MPV cases. Chicago has received 15,000 doses additional vaccine over the weekend, by far the city’s largest allocation to date.”

“However,” the CDPH continued, “many more people want a vaccine than they can get one.”

The CDPH says it is prioritizing the vaccine for “high-risk” people, which includes “anyone who has had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with MPV or whose sexual partner has been diagnosed with MPV. in the last 14 days”.

The city says a limited number of vaccines are available from certain health care providers. and that as the vaccine supply improves, more people will be eligible for the vaccine.

According to public health officials, the full course of the vaccine consists of 2 doses given at least 4 weeks apart. It takes about 2 weeks for the first dose to take full effect.

People at risk

While doctors have said the overall risk to the general public remains low, transmission most often occurs through close personal or sexual contact – the WHO’s leading expert on monkeypox, Dr Rosamund Lewis, said last week that 99% of all monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and of these 98% involved men who have sex with men – the disease is spreading from one way the experts have never seen before.

Still, doctors emphasize that the virus does not discriminate.

“MPV is not a ‘gay disease’,” said CDPH Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady. “There is nothing inherent in the biology of the virus that limits it to men who have sex with men. The virus spreads through close-knit social networks; it does not discriminate.

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, “person-to-person transmission is possible through” close physical contact with monkeypox wounds, objects that have been contaminated with fluids or wounds (clothing, bedding, etc. ), or by respiratory droplets after prolonged face-to-face.”

Arwady said most cases “arise from much more intimate skin-to-skin contact or kissing” and noted that most casual contact and everyday activities – including things like shopping in crowded shops, going to a bar or cafe, riding crowded CTA trains and buses, or using gym equipment or public restrooms – poses little or no risk of contracting a minivan.

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

Symptoms of Monkey Pox

The CDPH says monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious, viral illness that often begins with flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes, and progresses to a rash on the face and body, experts from the health department have said. health.

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

“Suspected cases may exhibit early flu-like symptoms and progress to lesions that may begin at one site of the body and spread to other parts,” the CDPH previously said.

Dr. Irfan Hafiz, an infectious disease specialist at Northwestern Medicine’s McHenry and Huntley Hospitals, said the virus causes symptoms similar to several illnesses, including chickenpox or smallpox.

“It may, to the layman, look like chickenpox or warts,” he previously said. “But these (sores) tend to be in exposed areas.”

Health experts have also said the disease could be confused with a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis or herpes, or with the varicella zoster virus.

In the United States, some experts have speculated that monkeypox may be on the verge of becoming an entrenched sexually transmitted disease in the country, like 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 yet to do so. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID response coordinator, said last week that the administration was considering how a public health emergency declaration could bolster the US response to the outbreak.

“There is no final decision on this as far as I know,” Jha said. “It’s an ongoing, but very active conversation at HHS.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has the authority to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act. A statement can help mobilize federal financial assistance to respond to an outbreak.

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

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