Monkeypox Cases Are Slowly Climbing In The US. Should You Be Concerned?

Although the number of monkeypox cases detected in the U.S. has more than doubled within the last week from 21 to 45 cases, health experts state that this uptick in case numbers is considered minor (per HealthDay News).

In a public media statement issued on June 9, experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed public misconceptions regarding the transmissibility of the virus. "Monkeypox virus is a completely different virus than the viruses that cause COVID-19 or measles. It is not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace," announced CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. While direct respiratory transfer of viral particles can occur from being in close physical proximity to an infected individual for a prolonged period of time, monkeypox is primarily contracted through direct contact with sores or the bodily fluids of those infected.

Providing further examples, health officials stated that activities such as casual conversations, contact with frequently touched surfaces such as light switches, or walking by an infected individual in passing do not pose a risk for infection (via CDC). Kissing, sexual contact, or sharing unwashed bedding, towels, or clothing can enable viral spread.

Federal and state officials address community concerns

Health experts continue to stress that they are prepared to respond should there be a need for widespread vaccination across the country, reports HealthDay News. In addition, Dr. Walensky has emphasized that the current strain we are facing seems to present with milder symptoms in comparison to past strains that have been associated with rashes. At least three-quarters of identified cases in the U.S. thus far have been linked with travel abroad.

Based on the current nature of the outbreak, some state officials have issued announcements easing public concerns over community risk levels. In one such instance, Health Department Acute Communicable Disease Program Manager Dana Perella made a statement regarding the safety of Philadelphia residents, reported via Fox News. Highlighting the availability of vaccines and antiviral treatments, Perella stated, "The threat to Philadelphians from monkeypox is extremely low. Monkeypox is much less contagious than COVID-19 and is containable particularly when prompt care is sought for symptoms ... I believe that residents and visitors should feel safe to do all the fun things Philadelphia has to offer, with the proper precautions" (per Fox News).