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As cases continue to rise, monkeypox is now declared as a public health emergency by the Biden administration.Experts said the disease has been around for decades and originated from Africa.What is monkeypox?According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease and critical care physician, monkeypox has been known to science since the 1950s. “It’s related to smallpox, it’s in the same viral family. It usually has been confined to about a half dozen countries in Africa,” Adalja said. “It comes from some animal source, not monkeys, some rodent or squirrel that infects individuals.”Adalja said in the outbreak we’re currently experiencing, they’re noticing individuals who have had no contact with Africa are carrying the virus. Symptoms of monkeypox.The Allegheny County Health Department reports the following can be symptoms of the monkeypox virus: RashFeverChillsHeadacheMuscle achesFatigueSwollen lymph nodesAdalja said the virus can cause fever and “a very characteristic rash” but is rarely deadly.”It’s usually not deadly, but it can be very painful, the skin lesions, and it is something that we are really aggressively trying to keep from establishing itself outside of the countries that it’s always been established in,” Adalja said.What is a public health emergency?The World Health Organization defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”Adalja said the declaration allows the government to move faster when it comes to allocating and directing resources where they’re needed, to help stop the spread.”The declaration was triggered by the fact that there are a lot of cases and that there’s a scarcity of resources, that there has been a lot of logistical problems. We’re seeing regulations, red tape, making it very difficult to actually take the actions necessary to control this outbreak,” Adalja told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “So the declaration will hopefully remove a lot of those obstacles and allow the government to act more quickly along with the fact that there is now a white house coordinator.”Is monkeypox similar to COVID-19?The short answer is no. The way monkeypox is transmitted is much different than COVID-19, according to medical experts. “You have to remember that each pathogen that’s on this planet has different ways of transmitting, has different strengths and weaknesses,” Adalja said.Adalja said COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is “very contagious” and spreads when some individuals have no symptoms at all. COVID-19 can spread through talking, laughing, coughing and sneezing. However, monkeypox requires very close contact to transmit and is not a respiratory virus. Adalja added that it’s not contagious until you have symptoms. “In terms of its ability to spread, it’s very constraint compared to COVID-19,” Adalja said.How does one transmit monkeypox?Right now, experts said most of the cases they’re seeing involve direct skin-to-skin contact for a certain period of time. The Allegheny County Health Department reports a person could get the virus by coming into contact with sores, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person. “Infections occur through close, intimate situations, such as cuddling, kissing and sexual contact and by touching contaminated materials, such as clothing, bedding and other linens used by an infected person.” – According to the county website. Is there a particular group of people doctors are treating for monkeypox?Adalja called this outbreak “unique” compared to others due to the outbreaks being “heavily concentrated” on people in the LGBTQ community, specifically men. “It’s been an outbreak that’s been going on for some time in parts of Africa, like Nigeria. At some point, a traveler that got infected happened to bring it into a sexual social network, where the virus has been able to spread,” he said. “It’s been amplified by raves, parties and many of these individuals may have multiple sexual partners or monogamous sexual partners, which has made it more easy for the virus to spread wider and farther than in the past.”Though medical experts also said the virus can infect anybody.How many cases are in Allegheny County right now?As of Thursday evening, the county has reported 30 cases. “The fact that there are 30 cases in Allegheny County is not surprising to me. There’s likely to be more cases as we get our hands around this outbreak,” Adalja told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. Medical experts said people should not be alarmed about the virus due to its inability to spread easily. However, doctors also added that the virus should not be ignored. “I think it is something that requires aggressive action by our health department at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level in order to get a true vaccine into the arms of individuals in the high-risk group,” Adalja said.Who is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine?High-risk individuals are eligible to receive a vaccine, and anyone who has experienced a high-risk exposure within the past two weeks or been diagnosed with monkeypox, according to health experts. The Allegheny County Health Department said the vaccine may prevent disease if given within four days of exposure to the virus. Their vaccine eligibility is on a case-by-case basis. Adalja said due to the outbreak being amongst men, specifically within the LGBTQ community, experts will likely target those individuals for a vaccine. “This is not a vaccine that every person needs to get. It’s really something where the benefit is in that risk group where we’re seeing cases occur,” Adalja said.Where can I get a vaccine?Here are the listed community clinics from the Allegheny County Health Department.Central Outreach Wellness Center, 127 Anderson Street, Suite 101, Pittsburgh, PA 15212Allies for Health + Wellbeing, 5913 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206Metro Community Health Center, 1789 S Braddock Ave. #410, Pittsburgh, PA 15218AHN Positive Health Clinic, 1307 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (only vaccinating current patients)

As cases continue to rise, monkeypox is now declared as a public health emergency by the Biden administration.

Experts said the disease has been around for decades and originated from Africa.

What is monkeypox?

According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease and critical care physician, monkeypox has been known to science since the 1950s.

“It’s related to smallpox, it’s in the same viral family. It usually has been confined to about a half dozen countries in Africa,” Adalja said. “It comes from some animal source, not monkeys, some rodent or squirrel that infects individuals.”

Adalja said in the outbreak we’re currently experiencing, they’re noticing individuals who have had no contact with Africa are carrying the virus.

Symptoms of monkeypox.

The Allegheny County Health Department reports the following can be symptoms of the monkeypox virus:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Adalja said the virus can cause fever and “a very characteristic rash” but is rarely deadly.

“It’s usually not deadly, but it can be very painful, the skin lesions, and it is something that we are really aggressively trying to keep from establishing itself outside of the countries that it’s always been established in,” Adalja said.

What is a public health emergency?

The World Health Organization defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

Adalja said the declaration allows the government to move faster when it comes to allocating and directing resources where they’re needed, to help stop the spread.

“The declaration was triggered by the fact that there are a lot of cases and that there’s a scarcity of resources, that there has been a lot of logistical problems. We’re seeing regulations, red tape, making it very difficult to actually take the actions necessary to control this outbreak,” Adalja told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “So the declaration will hopefully remove a lot of those obstacles and allow the government to act more quickly along with the fact that there is now a white house coordinator.”

Is monkeypox similar to COVID-19?

The short answer is no. The way monkeypox is transmitted is much different than COVID-19, according to medical experts.

“You have to remember that each pathogen that’s on this planet has different ways of transmitting, has different strengths and weaknesses,” Adalja said.

Adalja said COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is “very contagious” and spreads when some individuals have no symptoms at all. COVID-19 can spread through talking, laughing, coughing and sneezing.

However, monkeypox requires very close contact to transmit and is not a respiratory virus. Adalja added that it’s not contagious until you have symptoms.

“In terms of its ability to spread, it’s very constraint compared to COVID-19,” Adalja said.

How does one transmit monkeypox?

Right now, experts said most of the cases they’re seeing involve direct skin-to-skin contact for a certain period of time.

The Allegheny County Health Department reports a person could get the virus by coming into contact with sores, scabs, or body fluids of an infected person.

“Infections occur through close, intimate situations, such as cuddling, kissing and sexual contact and by touching contaminated materials, such as clothing, bedding and other linens used by an infected person.” – According to the county website.

Is there a particular group of people doctors are treating for monkeypox?

Adalja called this outbreak “unique” compared to others due to the outbreaks being “heavily concentrated” on people in the LGBTQ community, specifically men.

“It’s been an outbreak that’s been going on for some time in parts of Africa, like Nigeria. At some point, a traveler that got infected happened to bring it into a sexual social network, where the virus has been able to spread,” he said. “It’s been amplified by raves, parties and many of these individuals may have multiple sexual partners or monogamous sexual partners, which has made it more easy for the virus to spread wider and farther than in the past.”

Though medical experts also said the virus can infect anybody.

How many cases are in Allegheny County right now?

As of Thursday evening, the county has reported 30 cases.

“The fact that there are 30 cases in Allegheny County is not surprising to me. There’s likely to be more cases as we get our hands around this outbreak,” Adalja told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

Medical experts said people should not be alarmed about the virus due to its inability to spread easily. However, doctors also added that the virus should not be ignored.

“I think it is something that requires aggressive action by our health department at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level in order to get a true vaccine into the arms of individuals in the high-risk group,” Adalja said.

Who is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine?

High-risk individuals are eligible to receive a vaccine, and anyone who has experienced a high-risk exposure within the past two weeks or been diagnosed with monkeypox, according to health experts.

The Allegheny County Health Department said the vaccine may prevent disease if given within four days of exposure to the virus. Their vaccine eligibility is on a case-by-case basis.

Adalja said due to the outbreak being amongst men, specifically within the LGBTQ community, experts will likely target those individuals for a vaccine.

“This is not a vaccine that every person needs to get. It’s really something where the benefit is in that risk group where we’re seeing cases occur,” Adalja said.

Where can I get a vaccine?

Here are the listed community clinics from the Allegheny County Health Department.

  • Central Outreach Wellness Center, 127 Anderson Street, Suite 101, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
  • Allies for Health + Wellbeing, 5913 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
  • Metro Community Health Center, 1789 S Braddock Ave. #410, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
  • AHN Positive Health Clinic, 1307 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (only vaccinating current patients)

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