Federal health officials are warning there could be a “resurgence” in mpox cases in the coming months after a steady nine-month decline nationwide.
“The spring and summer season in 2023 could bring a resurgence of mpox as people gather for festivals and other events,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday in an alert to healthcare professionals. health.
Cases of the virus, formerly called monkeypox, have remained low in the United States since their peak last August – when 646 cases were reported in one day. However, a recent cluster was reported in the Chicago area, the CDC said.
In a recent 18-day period, the city’s health department saw 12 confirmed cases and one probable case of the virus. All cases from April 17 to May 5 were in symptomatic men – 69% of whom had received both doses of the two-dose Jynneos mpox vaccine.
The CDC said it doesn’t know why such a high percentage of vaccinated people became infected. He also doesn’t know if post-vaccination immunity has waned in these people or if the virus has mutated. The agency said it was conducting studies to help determine how long immunity lasts after vaccination.
Although no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection, it reduces the risk of contracting and spreading the virus and could ease symptoms, the CDC said.
Dr. Jay Varma, director of the Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response at Weill Cornell Medicine, told CNN that while there is a “very real risk” of an increase over the next few months, it probably won’t be as significant. than last year.
“It’s because many people at risk have either been infected or vaccinated,” Varma said.
However, the vaccination rate is still quite low, with only 23% of the estimated population at risk of mpox fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
People recommended for the vaccine are those who face an increased risk of exposure to mpox. This includes men who have sex with multiple male partners or with a male partner who has had multiple recent sexual partners.
Mpox is most commonly transmitted by close and sustained physical contact, and in the current global epidemic it has been almost exclusively associated with sexual contact.
Symptoms include a rash on the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth, or near the genitals. It may initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. Infected people may also experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches.