BREAKING: A STATE OF EMERGENCY has been declared in New York State in response to increasing numbers of monkeypox cases which now comprise a quarter of all identified positives in the entire nation.
Gov. Kathy Hochul took the action this morning to enable the state to “respond more swiftly to the outbreak and allows health care professionals to take additional steps that will help get more New Yorkers vaccinated.”
It follows an earlier declaration of an Imminent Threat to Public Health, which had been issued by State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.
There currently are 1,345 identified monkeypox cases in New York State, as of yesterday, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the State Health Department (NYSDOH) reporting 80 “confirmed/probable” cases in counties outside New York City as of Wednesday morning.
Those cases include 10 in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, with four each in Erie and Monroe counties, and one each in Chemung and Niagara.
Symptoms of monkeypox, according to the NYSDOH, can include:
– Rashes, bumps, or blisters on or around the genitals or in other areas like hands, feet, chest, or face.
– Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur before or after the rash appears, or not at all.
CDC advises that there are “no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections,” although the disease and smallpox are genetically similar which means that vaccines developed for smallpox can be used to prevent or treat monkeypox virus infections.
Contracting the Virus
Although the greatest occurrences to date have involved sexual activity among men, the virus can be spread to others through contact.
NYSDOH says close, physical contact between individuals includes:
— Direct contact with monkeypox sores or rashes on an individual who has monkeypox.
— Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from someone with monkeypox, particularly for those who have close contact with someone or are around them for a long period of time.
It also reports the virus can be spread through contact with objects or fabrics, such as clothing, bedding or towels which have been used by someone with monkeypox.
Of the 80 cases outside New York, as of Wednesday:
— 98 percent were male
— 12 percent straight
— 35 percent Hispanic/Latino, 31 percent white, non-Hispanic, and 16 percent Black, African-American, non-Hispanic, with the remainder in other categories, including unidentified.
— 23 percent were in the 30-to-34 age bracket, 21 percent 23-to-29, 20 percent 35-to-39, 11 percent 40-to-44, and the remainder accounting for less than 10 percent in other age ranges, including six percent being 18-to-24 years of age.
No cases were reported below age-18, although there have been case reports involving children in other parts of the country.
World Health Organization Action
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared monkeypox to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
It reported five deaths as of the day before, all in Africa, but one in Brazil and two in Spain have been recorded since then, including one this morning.
The current outbreak has been spreading world-wide since May, with the virus previously being reported primarily in African countries.
The governor said today that state actions to combat the virus include efforts to secure more vaccines, expand testing capacity, and distribute the latest information and resources to New Yorkers.
Hochul had reported yesterday that the federal government has secured an additional 110,000 vaccine doses, resulting in a total of 170,000 for New Yorkers to date.
The emergency order specifically extends the pool of eligible individuals who can administer monkeypox vaccines, including EMS personnel, pharmacists and midwives; allows physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific standing orders for vaccines; and requires providers to send vaccine data to the State Health Department.
Additional information on the virus, including photos and descriptions of symptoms, prevention recommendations, and what to do if one questions whether he or she has been infected, is available at the CDC website at https://bit.ly/3zlroz3 and the NYSDOH website at https://on.ny.gov/3Bu7rZJ.
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