U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday declared monkeypox a national health emergency.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Becerra tweeted.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 6,617 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States as of Wednesday.
The declaration follows the World Health Organization’s July 23 statement that monkeypox has reached the level of a global health emergency. A few U.S. cities and states have also declared an emergency.
Meanwhile, the United States is facing a shortage of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The New York Times reported Thursday that HHS waited too long to order bulk stocks of the vaccine to be bottled. About 1.1 million doses are being distributed, with the need estimated about about 3.5 million. More doses aren’t expected until October.
Becerra said at a news briefing he is considering a second declaration that would allow officials to expedite potential treatments and vaccines through the review process and allow flexibility in administering the vaccine supply.
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday the agency is considering allowing lower doses so that more people could be vaccinated.
The CDC lists monkeypox symptoms as fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, a rash, exhaustion and respiratory symptoms like coughing and congestion. The symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure and the illness usually lasts two to four weeks.
Monkeypox transmission has been mainly spreading among men who have sex with men, but the CDC says anybody is susceptible to infection. The virus can spread during intimate contact, or even by touching objects that have recently been used by someone with monkeypox.
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