During the last several weeks, Connecticut’s reported count of monkeypox cases increased to 39 as of Aug. 3, and a University of Connecticut expert says it’s likely to go even higher.
The first reported case occurred on July 7. With over 26,208 cases across the world (as of Aug. 3), the monkeypox cases seem to be increasing rapidly.
“One should assume that we will be seeing an increase in the number of cases in CT. It’s inevitable at this point,” Paulo Verardi, a UConn associate professor of virology and vaccinology, said in an e-mail.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past with smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Although monkeypox is a virus that has historically been around for decades, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that this is the first time it has spread to countries that have never had reported monkeypox cases before. The United States is among them. Monkeypox occurred in a colony of monkeys in 1958, and the first case in the world was reported in 1970, according to the CDC.
The CDC has also reported that many, but not all, cases of monkeypox are reported within bisexual or gay men as well as men who have sex with men. There are current reports from the WHO that monkeypox is found in the semen of men. It is essential to know that monkeypox can affect anyone and any person infected with monkeypox is able to spread it to another person.
The CDC has said that there are currently two vaccinations available to prevent monkeypox. The first vaccine is JYNNEOS, which is also known by the brand names Imvamune or Imvanex, and the second vaccine is ACAM 2000. While more doses of the JYNNEOS vaccines will be arriving to the United States within the next few weeks and months, the current number of doses is limited.
According to Newsweek, experts say men who have sex with men should be the priority for receiving vaccine doses.
Being aware of the monkeypox symptoms is crucial. The CDC has listed the following symptoms for monkeypox: fever, headaches, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. The most noticeable symptom of monkeypox is a rash. It appears on different types of the body such as the face, inside the mouth, genital areas, anus, hands, feet and chest. The rash undergoes different stages until it is gone completely.
Monkeypox is spread through respiratory secretions, direct contact, and a pregnant person is able to pass the virus to the fetus via the placenta, according to the CDC.
While monkeypox outbreaks are not new and occur every once in a while, health experts encourage people to stay safe across nations.
Emilia Pinilla is a student at Hill Regional Career High School, New Haven.