04.10.2022

CDC launches Emergency Activation Center to combat growing monkeypox outbreak

The CDC has launched an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to combat the nation’s budding monkeypox outbreak, the agency announced Tuesday.

It comes as the nation’s case tally reached 244, including 43 that were added to the ledger after the weekend. No U.S. deaths have been tied to the virus.

Some experts fear that true case figures are even higher than reported, as the virus is spreading uncirculated as those infected may miss signs that they have it and the nation’s testing infrastructure is relatively limited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched the EOC to serve as the center point in coordinating the response to the virus in a bid to expand the response to the virus.

A move of this type signals that the agency worries that the outbreak could continue to grow and even get out of hand – like it has in some European countries – if the response is not fortified.

The above map shows where cases of monkeypox have been detected in America. On the right, the third column of the table shows the number of cases recorded over the last two days

The CDC has launched an Emergency Activation Center to combat the rise of monkeypox in the U.S. It will have more than 300 dedicated staff members (file photo)

‘Today, CDC continues to lean forward with an aggressive public health response to the monkeypox outbreak by activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC),’ the agency wrote in a statement.

Monkeypox ‘not a global emergency’, WHO says

The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency.

In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were ‘unusual’ and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic in some African countries — has been neglected for years.

‘While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute’ a global health emergency, WHO said in a statement.

WHO nevertheless pointed to the ’emergency nature’ of the outbreak and said controlling its spread requires an ‘intense’ response.

The committee said the outbreak should be ‘closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks’.

But it would recommend a re-assessment before then if certain new developments emerge — such as cases among sex workers; spread to other countries or within countries that have already had cases; increased severity of cases; or an increasing rate of spread.

‘This action stands up the CDC’s command center for monitoring and coordinating the emergency response to monkeypox and mobilizing additional CDC personnel and resources. CDC’s activation of the EOC allows the agency to further increase operational support for the response to meet the outbreak’s evolving challenges.’

The agency says that more than 300 staff members will work within the EOC.

It comes just after the final weekend of Pride month, which many feared would spark outbreaks of the virus that has spread across communities of gay and bisexual men around the world.

It is likely that many cases of monkeypox are also going undiagnosed due to a lack of testing, or being written off as another infection.

Last weekend America recorded its biggest two-day rise in monkeypox infections since the outbreak was detected last month.

The rash-causing virus is likely spreading under the radar as well.

Several cases now not linked to a previously known infection or international travel, and experts have warned that poor surveillance methods are leaving populations vulnerable.

Nationwide, California has the biggest outbreak, with 67 cases, followed by New York with 37 and Florida and Illinois with 27 each.

Globally cases now top more than 4,000 across about 60 countries, but only one death has been recorded to date in an individual from Nigeria.

While cases are mostly being detected among men who have sex with men at present, there are fears it will spill over into other groups that are more at risk from the disease, such as the immunocompromised.

The disease is primarily passed on through skin-to-skin contact with infectious lesions, leading to fears it could also become entrenched as a sexually transmitted disease.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declined the declare the virus a global health emergency.

In a statement Saturday, its emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were ‘unusual’ and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic in some African countries — has been neglected for years.

Officials are urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic

‘While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute’ a global health emergency, WHO said in a statement.

WHO nevertheless pointed to the ’emergency nature’ of the outbreak and said controlling its spread requires an ‘intense’ response.

The committee said the outbreak should be ‘closely monitored and reviewed after a few weeks’.

But it would recommend a re-assessment before then if certain new developments emerge — such as cases among sex workers; spread to other countries or within countries that have already had cases; increased severity of cases; or an increasing rate of spread.

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