HSS Declares Monkeypox PHE

The U.S. outbreak could become a concern for frontline healthcare workers, given the possibility of surface transmission.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has declared the growing outbreak of monkeypox infections a public health emergency.

“We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Becerra said to reporters during a Thursday meeting.

Like the Covid-19 PHE, a monkeypox PHE will let the HHS direct funds toward developing guidelines designed to control the disease’s spread, increase the manufacture of the monkeypox vaccine MVA-BN (a.k.a. Jynneos), fund the development of new vaccines, implement other emergency funding programs, and tighten or relax regulatory guidelines as needed.

Surface Transmission

The transmission of the disease via close and sexual contact has been widely reported. However, the fact that monkeypox has been documented to be transmitted via surfaces and items that have touched an infectious person’s rash, could make monkeypox a concern for frontline healthcare workers such as HME/DME providers. For example, a U.K. healthcare worker contracted the disease in 2018 after handling a sufferer’s clothing and bedding, according to a 2020 study.

To keep things in perspective, unlike Covid 19 — which has killed more than 1 million Americans — Monkeypox is rarely fatal (five deaths have been reported so far by Spain, Brazil and India). However, monkeypox can create extremely painful sores, respiratory problems and other symptoms.

In terms of scale, 21,000 cases have been reported worldwide, according to Our Data Our World, and the outbreak in the United States has resulted in a little more than 6,600 cases, according to the CDC, with Washington, New York and Georgia leading the diagnoses. (Obviously, those numbers are dwarfed by Covid-19’s global and U.S. case counts.)

Other Declarations

Regardless of scale and severity, the world’s public health players are taking monkeypox seriously to contain its spread. So, the PHE from HHS’s Bercerra is surprising, given that various domestic and foreign governments and health organizations have made similar declarations already. Some notable examples:

Some large cities, including New York and San Francisco, have also made similar announcements on a municipal level.


About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher HME Business, DME Pharmacy and Mobility Management magazines. He was Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy from 2008 to 2023. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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