Monkeypox now a public health emergency of international concern; FL cases rank 3rd in the U.S.

By: - July 23, 2022 3:31 pm

Monkeypox virus. Credit: CDC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Saturday that the monkeypox outbreak that’s expanded globally is now a public health emergency of international concern.

“In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria in the International Health Regulations,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general said in a statement.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). Credit: WHO

“For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”

He cited that the outbreak has continued to grow, “and there are now more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths.”

In the United States, monkeypox has spread through almost every state in the nation. The disease can cause a characteristic rash and other symptoms.

Florida ranks 3rd in the list of states, with 247 monkeypox cases, according to a nationwide map from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The highest numbers of cases in the states are in New York (900), California (356), Florida, Illinois (238) and Georgia, (211).

The Florida Department of Health shows monkeypox cases of 260 in 16 counties as of Saturday, with Broward County showing the largest number of cases, at 129, followed by 70 cases in Miami-Dade County, 13 in Pinellas and 12 in Orange County.

The other counties with cases are Alachua (1), Collier (2), Duval (2), Hillsborough (5), Lake (1), Lee (2), Monroe (8), Palm Beach (8), Polk (3), Santa Rosa (1), Sarasota (1) and Seminole (2).

The WHO director-general outlined the decision:

“Under the International Health Regulations, I am required to consider five elements in deciding whether an outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

“First, the information provided by countries – which in this case shows that this virus has spread rapidly to many countries that have not seen it before;

“Second, the three criteria for declaring a public health emergency of international concern, which have been met;

“Third, the advice of the Emergency Committee, which has not reached consensus;

“Fourth, scientific principles, evidence and other relevant information – which are currently insufficient and leave us with many unknowns;

“And fifth, the risk to human health, international spread, and the potential for interference with international traffic.”

He added:

“Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.

“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.

“It’s therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.”

That said, anyone can contract the monkeypox disease, and CDC officials have advised that anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should consult with their health care provider about whether to get tested for the disease.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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