On Thursday, Aug. 4, the Biden administration through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a national emergency "as a result of the consequences of an outbreak of monkeypox cases across multiple states ... after consultation with public health officials as necessary."
Monkeypox cases have reached more than 17,000 nationally as of Aug. 26, and the declaration will help facilitate distribution of necessary resources, such as vaccines and testing.
The University of Pittsburgh is working with the Allegheny County Health Department to monitor cases in the county. As of Monday, Aug. 29, the county had 55 confirmed cases. In roughly the same time period, Pennsylvania has reported 477 confirmed cases statewide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A colorized scanning electron micrograph shows the monkeypox virus (orange) on the surface of infected cells (green). This Image was captured at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick in Maryland. (Photo courtesy of NIAID)
WHAT IS MONKEYPOX?
Monkeypox is caused by the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. It is contagious, and a person can contract the disease when they are in close contact with sores, scabs, and bodily fluids of an infected person. Intimate behavior such as kissing, hugging and sexual contact can spread the disease. So can contact with contaminated materials used by an infected person, such as clothing, bedding, and dirty laundry.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to the county health department, the following are symptoms of monkeypox:
Swollen lymph nodes
The ACHD says a rash "typically develops a few days after the early symptoms. However, not all individuals infected with monkeypox develop any symptoms prior to rash. some persons with monkeypox only have a few sores. It is critical that people who believe they were exposed to the virus and develop a rash get tested to limit the spread of the disease."
WHERE CAN I GET TESTED?
If you have a rash and believe you have monkeypox, call for an appointment or walk-in to the ACHD Public Health Clinic at:
Blakey Center, Public Health Clinic, 1908 Wylie Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
The clinic operated Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For more information, visit the clinic's website or call 412-578-8081.
For Pitt students, if a need is indicated, testing can be arranged and provided through the Student Health Service, which can be reached at 412-383-1800.
Faculty and staff may call MyHealth@Work at 412-647-4949 and/or their Personal Care Physician.
IS MONKEYPOX TREATABLE?
There are no medical treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. Most people with monkeypox infections recover fully within 2 to 4 weeks without the need for medical treatment.
Monkeypox infection is rarely fatal. If you have symptoms of monkeypox, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider.
WHERE CAN I GET VACCINATED?
Antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections in people who are more likely to get severely ill, like individuals with weakened immune systems.
In Allegheny County, the monkeypox vaccine is available "for individuals who have experienced a high-risk exposure in the past 14 days to someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, or for individuals who have experienced a high likelihood of exposure," according to the county health department, which added that the vaccine may prevent disease if given within four days of exposure to the virus."
The ACHD stressed that vaccine eligibility "is determined on a case-by-case basis" and siad the Immunization Clinic offers the JYNNEOS vaccine.
If you meet the criteria or think you need a vaccine, call 412-687-ACHD (412-687-2243).
The health department is providing vaccinations at the following locations:
- Allies for Health + Wellbeing, 5913 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206
- Central Outreach Wellness Center, 127 Anderson Street, Suite 101, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
- Metro Community Health Center, 1789 S Braddock Ave. #410, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
More information about monkeypox has been provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.