The U.S. now has the highest levels of monkeypox in the world, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of July 29, the last time the CDC case count was updated at the time of writing, there are 4,906 reported cases of monkeypox in the U.S., causing the U.S. to surpass Spain with 4,298 cases.
351 cases have been reported in Georgia, the second highest in the South after Florida with 373.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on July 23, the strongest call to action the agency can make. The most recent such announcement was for COVID-19 in 2020. Infectious disease experts have warned that the number of monkeypox cases is likely higher than the numbers reported, and more testing and contact tracing would reveal a far larger number of cases. Worldwide, there have been 22,485 reported cases in 79 countries, surging from only around 200 at the end of May.
The U.S. has yet to declare a public health emergency, despite the surge in cases. The White House has also yet to appoint a monkeypox coordinator.
“The pandemic, which has held the United States and almost every other country in its grip, should have taught us valuable lessons about how to manage a public health emergency, but it seems we are making some of the same mistakes we made not even three years ago, when the SARS-CoV-2 virus started to spread,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, wrote on July 31.
Plans have been announced to distribute an additional 800,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine, but as Dr. Gupta writes, “the demand for vaccines is outpacing the supply.”
While anyone can contract monkeypox through close personal contact, many of the people who are being affected by it are gay and bisexual men. Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be transmitted through sexual and intimate contact as well as through shared bedding. The virus spreads through contact with body fluids and sores. Symptoms for monkeypox are similar to the flu, including fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes, as well as body rashes.