Here we go again! While we thought we had the pandemic in the rearview mirror, we may have another one on our hands.
On July 23rd, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox an international public health emergency. What is monkeypox? What are the symptoms? How concerned should Americans be? What are the economic impacts? We capture the facts and answer these questions below.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox. Despite popular misconceptions, there is no correlation between monkeypox and chickenpox.
The scientific community has traced the earliest human cases back to the 1970s, originating in central African countries. Before the current outbreak, monkeypox cases were rarely discovered outside of Africa.
The most visible (and fear-inducing) symptoms include painful blisters or rash on the face, mouth, hands, feet, and other body parts. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though, the most common monkeypox symptoms are:
- Body Ache
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
If these sound familiar, it is because they are. Many of these symptoms are similar to COVID-19 or the flu, so it can be hard to self-diagnose monkeypox if visible rashes do not develop.
As per the WHO, symptoms can last from 2 to 4 weeks. Around 3 to 6 percent of recent cases have resulted in death.
Like other viral infections, monkeypox spreads via close contact with respiratory droplets, bodily fluids, blood, or lesions of infected persons or animals. The virus can also persist on surfaces and materials. The CDC lists various steps to prevent infection.
Symptoms can appear from 5 to 21 days after infection. As per the WHO, a typical incubation period (time between infection to symptoms) is 6 to 13 days. Severe cases can lead to complications and even loss of vision.
The American economy can ill afford another pandemic. The government provided $5 Trillion to shield Americans from the financial impacts of COVID-19. Combined with global supply chain restrictions and the Ukraine war, this has resulted in the highest inflation in 40 years.
Your wallet is likely feeling the pain of the rising prices of food, services, and shelter. With the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to combat inflation, stock markets are highly volatile, and the economy seems headed for a recession.
As of July 23, there are 16,836 cases reported from 74 different countries. Most of these cases are from countries that have not traditionally encountered monkeypox in the past. About 99% of the cases are reported to be men who may have engaged in sexual contact with infected individuals.
Besides Spain, the United States has the highest case count and is closing in on almost three thousand cases from all over the country.
The good news is that the U.S. government already has a vaccine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sharply increased production in the last few months. As per their website, HHS has “distributed nearly 200,000 JYNNEOS vaccines in recent weeks, accelerated the inspection of approximately 800,000 vaccines for delivery this summer while procuring millions more for delivery in mid-2023, and ensured that tens of thousands of tests per week would be available to physicians and patients.”
If you suspect that you may have been infected or are at high risk of infection, the CDC recommends you see your doctor about getting the vaccine or look out for vaccine clinics in your area.
WHO Director-General has designated the growing monkeypox outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Assigning a health-related emergency as a PHEIC is the highest level of alert that can be issued, and it was last used two years ago for COVID-19.
The WHO issues PHEIC for complex public health situations and includes recommendations to coordinate steps for transmission prevention and case tracing across various countries.
The U.S. government has not yet raised the alert level to match WHO’s warnings for monkeypox. According to Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, the administration is weighing its options.
Monkeypox is an emerging situation, and the world’s health leaders are closely monitoring it. WHO’s declaration is just the first step in coordinating prevention plans across the globe. While case levels are not approaching pandemic levels yet, experts are hopeful that timely vaccination and treatment efforts can contain the worldwide impact. It is up to all of us to monitor for exposure, vaccinate as needed, and prevent another pandemic from spreading across the country.
DISCLAIMER: This website and the author do not provide medical advice. The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels.