New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said she expects the monkeypox virus to continue to spread as reported cases begin to show up more in the northern region. of the state, while the bulk of the cases so far have been in New York.
“We expect the number of cases to increase,” Bassett said in New York on Wednesday, adding that the state has by far the highest number in the country. “It reflects both diagnosis and finding and it reflects ongoing transmission within communities.”
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and, rarely, death. The risk of contracting the disease for the general public is low.
The state has reported 679 confirmed cases of the virus, including 639 in New York. Upstate, Albany County and Tompkins County identified their first cases on Tuesday and Orange County did the same on Wednesday.
Bassett said the spread of monkeypox greatly affects LGBT communities.
“Anyone can get monkeypox, but right now it’s spreading through networks where men have sex with other men,” Bassett said.
Bassett said the virus spreads through long skin-to-skin contact with someone with a rash or blisters on their body.
“Consider the level of risk at clubs, raves, saunas and other parties,” she said.
The health commissioner has said there are not yet enough monkeypox vaccines for everyone who wants or is eligible to get one. She said New York officials continue to press the federal government for more supplies. From Tuesday, the state is allocated 8,822 additional doses by the federal government while New York City receives its own allocation of 23,963 doses. After initially sending doses only to Saratoga County, 600 will be sent to Erie County, 600 to Monroe County and 300 to Saratoga County as part of statewide distribution. Albany County receives 40.
“I know everyone wants to act quickly on this; the FDA is the gold standard,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said of the allocation of the monkeypox vaccine.