New York City declares monkeypox a public health emergency

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Just two days after New York state called monkeypox an "imminent threat," New York City followed suit Saturday, declaring the disease a "public health emergency."The move was announced in a joint statement from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and city Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak, and we estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure," the statement read. "We will continue to work with our federal partners to secure more doses as soon as they become available. This outbreak must be met with urgency, action, and resources, both nationally and globally, and this declaration of a public health emergency reflects the seriousness of the moment." The declaration will give Vasan and the health department the ability to issue emergency orders and "amend provisions of the Health Code to provide for measures to help slow the spread." As of Friday, the state of New York has recorded at least 1,383 confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to the state's department of health. Of those, a staggering 1,289 cases are in New York City, the city's department of health said.At least 5,189 cases have been confirmed nationwide, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means New York City accounts for just under 25% of all cases in the U.S. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that the state was slated to receive another 110,000 monkeypox vaccine doses. Of those, approximately 80,000 will go to New York City, and the remaining 30,000 to the rest of the state, Hochul said.

People wait to register for a monkeypox vaccination on July 29, 2022, in New York City.  / Credit: John Smith/VIEWpress/Getty Images
People wait to register for a monkeypox vaccination on July 29, 2022, in New York City. / Credit: John Smith/VIEWpress/Getty Images

Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses that includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox, according to the CDC. It was first discovered in 1958 in colonies of monkeys that were being used for research. The first human case was discovered in 1970, per the CDC.

Symptoms will likely include a fever followed by a rash and lesions. Monkeypox differs from smallpox in that it causes swollen lymph nodes, the CDC said. Symptoms will start within three weeks of exposure, and the illness will last anywhere from two to four weeks.

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