Monkeypox outbreak a top concern for health experts – three cases in Evanston so far

This electron microscope image shows monkeypox virions in a sample of human skin. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of reported monkeypox cases in this current outbreak has risen in an unprecedented manner in a short period of time, according to Dr. Irfan N. Hafiz, an infectious disease specialist and the chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine’s Huntley, McHenry and Woodstock Hospitals.

Since early May, authorities have tracked over 16,000 cases globally and nearly 3,000 cases in the United Statesincluding 238 in Illinois and three in Evanston as of Friday, July 22, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“The time to say that we can contain this – we’ve probably lost that window, to be honest,” Hafiz said in a phone interview with the RoundTable on Monday. “And therefore, we do need to make sure that we’re rapidly identifying cases when they occur, trying to make sure that we are providing immunizations to any person or groups of people that may be at risk so that we can further contain the spread. “

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declared the global outbreak of monkeypox cases a Public Health Emergency of International Concerna designation that gives the agency more power to coordinate resources and combat the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has reported over 1,000 cases of monkeypox as of July 25. During an appearance on CNN Monday morning, US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra described his level of concern about the domestic outbreak of cases as a “10” out of 10 because public health officials have simply not dealt with a monkeypox emergency before.

Thus far, the US has seen very few hospitalizations and no reported deaths from monkeypox, but the illness can cause severe pain, difficulty eating or using the bathroom and potentially weeks of missed work, which can devastate individuals, families and communities.

Are there enough vaccines?

About 85% of the cases reported in Illinois have occurred in Chicago, but the entire state has only received around 5,000 vaccine doses at this point, which have mostly gone to Chicago.

Evanston has yet to receive any vaccine allocation, the city’s Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo told the Roundtable.

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