On Thursday, US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declared monkeypox a national public health emergency.
“We are ready to take our response to the next level to fight this virus. We urge all Americans to take monkeypox seriously,” he said.
The statement comes as the United States currently has the most active cases of monkeypox in the world, with 7,102 as of August 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
More: CDC monkeypox US Map
More: The United States now has the world’s largest outbreak of monkeypox
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on July 23.
Mark O’Neill, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said the department has identified 211 cases in Pennsylvania, including 40 in the southwestern region of the state.
“To protect patient confidentiality, the department does not provide county-level case counts or confirm individual cases,” he said.
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O’Neill added, “While everyone should be aware of the presence of monkeypox in the United States, the general population is considered to be at low risk of contracting monkeypox because monkeypox does not spread easily between people. .”
According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, is usually caused by close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash located on or near the genitals or anus, but can also be found on the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
The CDC said the rash goes through several stages, including scabs, before it heals, can look like pimples or blisters, and can be painful or itchy.
Other symptoms of monkeypox may include fever, headache, muscle aches or back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and trouble breathing like sore throat , nasal congestion and cough.
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The CDC said symptoms tend to start three weeks after exposure, and if someone has flu-like symptoms they will develop a rash 1 to 4 days later.
The disease usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks and can spread until the rash has healed, all the scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin has formed.
The virus is spread by direct contact, often through intimate contact, by touching objects, fabrics, and surfaces that a person with monkeypox has used, and by contact with respiratory secretions.
The CDC said close skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash resembling monkeypox should be avoided, avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used , wash hands often with soap and water and use alcohol-based hand rubs. disinfectant.
More: CDC guidance for sexual activity for monkeypox
O’Neill said the monkeypox virus is not new, having first been identified in humans in the United States in 2003.
“The department has been actively engaged with health care providers across the Commonwealth since monkeypox first emerged in the United States a few months ago,” he said. “People with monkeypox, in the current outbreak, generally report having close and sustained physical contact with other people with monkeypox.
“When public health practitioners learn of cases, they typically interview people and identify contacts of those people who are at greatest risk of developing the disease,” O’Neill said. “These contacts are advised to monitor their health, get tested if they develop symptoms consistent with monkeypox, and seek a vaccine if appropriate.”
He said that if you think you have monkeypox, contact your health care provider or contact one of the providers listed at the link: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents /Programs/STD%20PROVIDERS.pdf
They can also call 877-PA-HEALTH to find out their risk of getting the disease and talk about a vaccine.
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Nicholas Vercilla is a reporter for the Beaver County Times. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.