The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, according to a CNN report.
Monkeypox was first identified in the US in mid-May, and since there have been 6,600 probable or confirmed cases. To date, there have been cases found in every state except for Montana and Wyoming.
Monkeypox, though sometimes associated by name with chickenpox, actually belongs to from the same family of viruses as smallpox, though thus far its not as transmissible or fatal as smallpox, per an NPR article. However, some researchers fear that the virus may mutate and become more dangerous.
The virus’ name is derived from the fact it was first identified in colonies of monkeys in the late 1950s. Monkeypox, according to the CDC, presents with symptoms that include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- A rash that may be located on or near the genital region or anus, but may also appear on areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth
The CDC added that presentation of the rash differs; some people get the rash first, followed by other symptoms, while others present with symptoms first, and subsequently rash.
Monkeypox can infected anyone, though the majority of cases in the US so far have been among men who have sex with men. The virus is spread through close contact with an infection person.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden appointed Robert Fenton as the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. Per CNN, Fenton – a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator who oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada – will coordinate the government’s monkeypox response.