On the heels of a public health emergency declaration from the World Health Organization, epidemiologists and public health experts warn the United States is running out of time to contain a monkeypox outbreak.
Anne Rimoin, who has studied monkeypox for decades, told NPR that we are losing daylight. It is less likely that we will be able to contain it because we are pushing forward on all fronts.
U.S. officials have made tens of thousands of vaccines available and plan to release another 1.6 million doses in the coming months.
Some health officials reported that the limited supplies didn't match demand. If containment is still possible, the case numbers have grown so fast in recent weeks that a larger response may be needed.
The University of Michigan's infectious disease specialist told NPR that it will be difficult, but that it needs to still be the goal. In the coming days and weeks, what we do will determine where we are a few months from now.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency. The administration is considering declaring an emergency in the U.S., according to officials.
There was a change of tone from the beginning of the outbreak. There were only a few cases outside of Africa, where the disease is endemic, and health officials around the world were confident that the disease could be contained.
The CDC reported 2,891 cases of monkeypox in the US on Friday, more than 10 times higher than a month ago.
The CDC had tests available before the outbreak began, but experts complain that the agency is too slow in testing cases. The Biden administration began shipping tests to commercial laboratories in late June with the expectation that testing capacity would be increased through July.
"We are behind in a lot of things, including rapid testing and access to treatment for those patients who might need it," he said.
Contact tracing could help fight the virus.
We can't vaccine and treat our way out of monkeypox. It's critical that prevention is done.
She said that Monkeypox has a long time to live. It can be weeks before symptoms show up. A heads-up from a robust contact tracing effort could help people who have been exposed to monkeypox get tested or get a vaccine.
The majority of the time the virus is spread through physical contact. It is not a sexually transmitted disease and can be spread through non-sexual contact. Respiratory droplets can be used as a spreader of the disease.
Men who have sex with other men have been affected by the outbreak in the U.S. The CDC has reported infections in a few cis gender women. A toddler in California and an infant in Washington, D.C. were the first documented cases in children.
Public awareness of infectious disease is high and the monkeypox outbreak came at a time when that was the case. Public health concepts like isolation, rapid testing and contact tracing have become familiar to Americans.
How early and how forcefully to take action when an outbreak is limited to a small group of people seems to have not stuck.
"I don't want to say this, but I feel like we're going again," Rebecca said.
The two diseases are very different, according to researchers. Different levels of contact are required to spread them. Covid is more transmissible.
There are many lessons that could be applied to infectious diseases.
"Public health thought that we need to respond aggressively up front, and with a lot of resources and a lot of attention up front, if we hope to curtail and contain the disease." I'm pretty sure that aggressive upfront action didn't happen.
Public health officials and epidemiologists agree that containment is possible.
There was a known quantity of monkeypox before the current outbreak. The disease was first discovered in humans more than 50 years ago, and the treatments and vaccines for it are still effective today. There are millions of doses in the U.S.
It can be contained. Rimoin of UCLA said that it would depend on the resources dedicated to doing this and the speed with which we can act. It will require a concerted effort around the world.