U.S. declares monkeypox a public health emergency

STORY: The United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, the health secretary confirmed Thursday.

Cases had crossed 6,600 in the United States a day earlier, almost all of them among men who have sex with men.

Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, told Reuters that the spread of cases outside that group was not high but was being carefully monitored.

"But you’ve always got to take things like that seriously and keep an open mind that you might see more of that. You don’t want to panic people because there’s no need to be overly concerned now, but at the same time that you’re not currently over-concerned you should be currently very observant, and currently very careful, and currently on top of what’s going on and following it very carefully."

The first U.S. case of monkeypox was confirmed in Massachusetts in May, followed by another case in California five days later.

Declarations of emergencies are already in place in California, Illinois and New York.

The World Health Organization last month dubbed monkeypox a "public health emergency of international concern," its highest alert level.

First identified in monkeys in 1958, the disease has mild symptoms including fever, aches and skin lesions, and is usually spread through close contact.

The U.S. government had distributed 156,000 monkeypox vaccine doses nationwide through mid-July. It has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses.