WHITEFISH, Montana — Following the COVID-19 pandemic, a new virus has had the world on high alert. In May of 2022, the monkeypox virus spread from Africa, where it had resided as an endemic virus– regularly found among a particular group of people or within a specific area– for years. Now deemed a global health emergency, monkeypox has reached more than 70 countries, as of July 2022. As cases continue to grow, many people are wanting to know how to stop monkeypox.
A Brief History of Monkeypox
Monkeypox was first identified in 1958, where two outbreaks of the virus occurred in colonies of monkeys in a research lab. This is where it earned the name monkeypox, though the origin of the virus is likely from small rodents.
It was not until 1970 that the first human case appeared in Africa. Up until the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox was only reported within this continent– subsiding within several central and western African countries. This year alone, there have been 87 deaths from monkeypox in African countries, as of May 2022.
The virus presents itself with a series of symptoms including: fever, body aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and a body rash. Monkeypox has been considered a “much milder cousin of smallpox,” though some of the more severe cases have compared the rash to sandpaper that is tender to the touch, even against bed sheets.
Similarly to chickenpox, the virus spreads through direct contact with an infectious rash, scab or body fluid. Spreading can occur through intimate physical contact such as kissing or other prolonged face-to-face contact. It has not been established whether the virus can be sexually transmitted, but perplexingly, a large population of the infected are homosexual and/or bisexual men, according to Science.
The virus will likely continue to grow and spread before it can be contained. Currently, many worldwide organizations are demonstrating the world’s copious efforts to work together and stop monkeypox from spreading. Many individual countries are creating plans to stop the virus within the boundaries.
The United States’ Role
On June 28, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration acknowledged the recent virus outbreak in the U.S. and released together a government “response”, i.e. a plan to mitigate the virus. The response mostly consists of vaccination goals such as proper distribution and providing easier testing sites across the country. President Biden and the United States government are working diligently to inform the public and begin distributing vaccinations for the virus.
The Administration’s response also outlines the government’s plan to help eradicate Monkeypox globally. The Biden-Harris Administration announced its dedication to “assisting endemic and non-endemic countries combat their outbreaks and is exploring options to further support the international response,” according to The White House.
Acting as a large contributor to many global programs, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Biden-Harris Administration report notes their long-term investment and support of global health concerns. With high hopes, the U.S. government hopes to control the virus across the country and then begin to distribute on a global scale to attempt to stop monkeypox.
Since the WHO announced the virus as a global emergency in July 2022, countless worldwide organizations have been working together to slow and stop the spread of Monkeypox. The WHO had its second meeting regarding the multi-country outbreak on July 21st, 2022. After dense analysis, WHO determined monkeypox qualified as a PHEIC– a public health emergency of international concern.
As cases continue to rise, people are becoming more educated on the virus as well as how to fight it. It is important to watch for symptoms and if exposed to the virus, speak to a healthcare provider about receiving testing.
– Sierra Winch