The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases on the rise across the U.S.
Monkeypox is a viral infection closely related to smallpox and causes the same symptoms — flu-like fevers, headaches, backaches, muscle aches and chills. The virus is rarely fatal. There are 90 confirmed cases of the virus in Michigan, 24 of them in Detroit. There were 11,177 confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. as of Friday afternoon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What Are Detroit Health Professionals Saying?
Denise Fair Razo, chief public health officer for the Detroit Health Department, said the city is taking a “preventative approach” when it comes to handling monkeypox and relying on its partners to help keep residents informed about the risks and available resources.
“If anyone is engaged in behaviors that may put them or their partners at risk for contracting the monkeypox,” Fair Razo told BridgeDetroit. “We want them to come to the health department and roll up their sleeves. It’s really a no questions, conversation. If you want the MPV (monkeypox virus) vaccine, we want to provide it to you.”
Some cities and states, including New York City, San Francisco, California, Illinois and New York, have already declared monkeypox an emergency, allowing them to free up funding and resources for their responses to the outbreak.
A detailed analysis of monkeypox case records published by the CDC on Friday offers new insight into the outbreak, which is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men, especially those who are Black and Hispanic.
Among the cases with available data, 94% were in men who reported recent sexual or close intimate contact with another man. More than half (54%) of cases were among Black and Hispanic people, a group that represents about a third (34%) of the general U.S. population. And the share of cases among Black people has grown in recent weeks, according to the CDC analysis.
How Is Monkeypox Caught?
The virus is transmitted by close, personal contact, including skin-to-skin touches, kisses or other sexually intimate contacts, or by touching fabrics or objects touched by someone infected, according to the CDC. It can also be transmitted to the fetus.
- People with monkeypox are considered infectious from the time symptoms show until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
- Exposure occurs by:
- Breathing in respiratory droplets from an infected person and/or,
- Directly or indirectly touching infected body fluids, lesions or contaminated clothing.
“Public health efforts should prioritize gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, who are currently disproportionately affected, for prevention and testing, while addressing equity, minimizing stigma, and maintaining vigilance for transmission in other populations,” the authors of the report said.
Additional analysis shows that all of the patients had a rash. However, a genital rash was more commonly reported in the current outbreak than in the U.S. than other countries. It was the most common location for rash (46%), followed by arms (40%), face (38%) and legs (37%). More than a third of cases with available data reported rash in four or more regions.
Who Has the Highest Risk of Getting Infected?
According to the CDC, the current risk to the public of contracting monkeypox appears to be low. If you have symptoms of monkeypox (such as rash or lesions like those in the photos above), contact your healthcare provider. This includes persons who:
- Recently traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported and/or
- Had contact with a person who has a similar rash or has confirmed/suspected monkeypox.
Monkeypox can infect anyone, but the majority of cases in the U.S. outbreak have been among men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men and people who identify as transgender. Close contact with an infected individual is required for the spread of the monkeypox virus, experts say.
Where Can I Get Vaccinated?
The CDC initially announced vaccines were being released from the strategic national stockpile and offered to the high-risk contacts of monkeypox patients, as well as the health care workers treating them. Federal health officials have since expanded vaccination efforts to focus on the broader community of men who have sex with men, the demographic that makes up most U.S. monkeypox cases.
The City of Detroit has begun providing doses of the Jynneos vaccines to Detroiters who have been exposed to the virus or who suspect they have been exposed, made available through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
The vaccine will be used as first doses during initial allocations from MDHHS on the following basis:
- as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent infection in individuals who have been exposed to the virus
- then as expanded PEP for those with engaging in high risk behaviors in areas with known transmission in the previous 14 days
Monkeypox vaccinations are being administered at the following locations:
Wayne HIV/STI Clinic
50 East Canfield St.
Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Every first and third Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“The Detroit Health Department is providing doses of this vaccine to any Detroiter who may have been exposed or suspects they have been exposed in an effort to help mitigate spread of the Monkeypox virus.”Denise Fair Razo, chief public health officer