monkeypox virus under the microscopeImage: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/AFP/Archives/Cynthia S. Goldsmith
The United States is expanding its vaccination campaign against monkeypox. The US Department of Health announced on Tuesday that it would immediately release 56,000 doses of the vaccine for areas with high transmission rates. This is more than five times the total distribution so far in the country. The US government also wants to secure an additional 240,000 vaccine doses in the coming weeks. A total of 1.6 million vaccine doses should be available this year.
According to the US health authority CDC, there have been 4,700 cases of monkeypox in the current outbreak worldwide. There have been 306 cases in the US, none of which were fatal.
A less dangerous cousin of smallpox, which was eradicated about 40 years ago, monkeypox is commonly found in West and Central Africa. However, since May, monkeypox has been spreading to other countries, especially in Western Europe. Typical symptoms of the disease include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and pustules, similar to chickenpox. The disease spreads through close contact between the body and the skin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) over the weekend decided not to declare an international health emergency due to monkeypox. According to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the monkeypox outbreak is not currently classified as a public health emergency of international concern – the highest alert level in the WHO.
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