New York health commissioner declares monkeypox an ‘imminent threat to public health’

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Healthcare workers with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene help people register for the monkeypox vaccine at one of the City's vaccination sites, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York. U.S. health officials said Thursday that the country’s monkeypox outbreak can still be controlled and eliminated, despite rising case numbers and concerns about limited vaccine supplies in many parts of the country. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York state’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett declared monkeypox “an imminent threat to public health” in the state.

Last week, Bassett said that official declaration means local health departments will be able to access additional state reimbursement to help with the response and prevention activities related to the virus.

Bassett noted that anyone can get monkeypox, which is primarily spread through close, physical contact. She said that the current global outbreak looks to be driven by exposure related to intimate, sexual contact, and currently, certain populations are more affected than others, including men who have sex with men.

The commissioner said that experience with previous monkeypox outbreaks in other places suggests that the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant people and children under 8 years of age may be at heightened risk for severe outcomes.

On Thursday, Governor Kathy Hochul said that 110,000 additional monkeypox vaccine doses have been secured with the help of the federal government for New York state. Approximately 80,000 of those doses will go to New York City and 30,000 to the rest of the state.

The virus is spreading worldwide, and is transmitted through extended skin contact with open lesions.

Broome County officials announced the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the county on Friday. Health officials say the individual did not have contact with others. The county currently does not have any doses of the vaccine.

The CDC says less than 1% of monkeypox cases have been fatal.

You can get more information about monkeypox from the New York State Health Department website.