Monkeypox has been declared by the United States a public health emergency, the health secretary announced Friday, a move that will likely release additional cash and resources to combat the disease.
On Thursday, the U.S. case count surpassed 6,600, with almost all instances occurring in men who engage in sexual activity with other men.
At a press event, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated, "We're prepared to elevate our response to this illness to the next level, and we urge all Americans to take monkeypox seriously."
Alongside Bacerra, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky stated that the declaration will improve the availability of data on monkeypox illnesses necessary for the response.
The United States, which as of Friday has the highest number of cases in the globe, is where the disease first began to spread.
Vaccines and treatments have been in short supply, leaving the disease to be managed by sexual health clinics that have historically been underfunded.
The World Health Organization has classified monkeypox as a "public health emergency of international concern," its highest degree of warning.
The proclamation issued by the WHO last month aimed to activate a coordinated international response and release resources for collaboration on vaccinations and treatments.
The U.S. government has issued 600,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic's Jynneos vaccination and 14,000 doses of Siga Technologies' TPOXX therapy, according to government officials. However, they have not disclosed how many doses have been administered.
More than 1.6 million high-risk individuals will be vaccinated, according to Walensky.
Robert Califf, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, stated that the agency was considering releasing more Jynneos vaccine doses by allowing physicians to withdraw five doses of vaccine from each vial, as opposed to the current 1 dose.
After California, Illinois, and New York declared emergencies, U.S. President Joe Biden named two federal officials this month to oversee his administration's response to monkeypox.
According to the World Health Organization, the disease produces moderate symptoms, such as fever, pains, and pus-filled skin lesions, and most patients recover within two to four weeks.
Monkeypox was first detected in 1958 in monkeys. It is rarely fatal and spreads by close physical contact.
Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, told Reuters on Friday that it was essential to involve gay community leaders in attempts to contain the outbreak, but he cautioned against stigmatizing homosexuality.