Mpox Remains a Threat in the U.S. Among Key Groups

Mpox Remains a Threat in the U.S. Among Key Groups
Mpox Remains a Threat in the U.S. Among Key Groups. Credit | REUTERS

United States – Although cases are not as frequent as the ones found in the 2022 outbreak, mpox is still present in the US, predominantly in gay and bisexual men, according to new governmental statistics.

2022 Outbreak and Decline

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reported that the current mpox outbreak, or monkeypox viral illness, affected over 32,000 individuals in the United States in 2022 and caused fifty-eight fatalities. It gradually subsided after the education crusade and vaccination among groups known to be vulnerable were begun, as reported by HealthDay.

Nevertheless, mpox is still a threat that has not been eradicated from the world and is now threatening central Africa in what is considered a major outbreak.

And now a new report shows that new sporadic cases of mpox are still appearing in the US, especially among men having sex with other men.

Current Threat and Ongoing Cases

The survey targeted 196 people who received care in 13 different emergency departments of US hospitals between June and December, 2023. The patients were chosen to be included in the study since they presented themselves with rashes that can be associated with mpox disease. Among them 45% were females and 20% of them were below 18 years of age.

Three persons out of the study participants, 1.5% of whom were found to have mpox. All three were gay or bisexual men who reported that they had not been vaccinated against mpox and had several sexual partners they encountered through dating applications.

Transmission and Symptoms

Mpox is a viral disease that occurs through direct contact with affected persons, mainly through touching their skin. This is typically skin-to-skin, which makes sex a possible mode of transmission. The basic signs of infection involve fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches; the rash can begin as small red bumps that form lesions and scabs which take one to two weeks to heal.

However, mpox can affect anyone, but MSMs are most at risk, and for HIV-positive individuals, this is a severe disease.

Fortunately, there is a mpox vaccine known as Jynneos, as mentioned earlier. It is an ability for a two-dose schedule where the shots are administered a month or so apart.

Importance of Vigilance and Education

The study’s co-author, Dr. David Talan, an emergency medicine and infectious diseases professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine of UCLA, emphasized the importance of monitoring mpox, as reported by HealthDay.

“Clinicians should remain vigilant for mpox infections, particularly in gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, and educate patients on risk reduction, including the importance of vaccination,” Berdahl said.