Chicago, IL

Chicago Health Officials Sound Alarm on Monkeypox Surge Before Pride Month Begins

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago health officials urge gay and bisexual men to receive the mpox vaccination ahead of the June Pride festivities

As Pride month approaches, Chicago public health officials have issued a warning regarding a potential surge in monkeypox cases [1]. With a cumulative total of 1,151 cases reported since last summer, concerns over a resurgence of the virus have raised alarm bells among health authorities.

A cluster of monkeypox cases in the Chicago area has sparked fears of increased transmission during the upcoming summer months, despite the recent conclusion of the public health emergency related to the outbreak that began last year. The response to the monkeypox outbreak in 2022 was widely recognized as a public health success, although initial challenges were encountered.

Health officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Monkeypox is a rare viral disease that primarily affects animals but can be transmitted to humans through close contact with infected animals or people. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of monkeypox in humans include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

Public health officials including those at CDC, expressed concern because, similar to other types of viruses transmitted through sexual contact, the number of mpox cases could increase during the summer, as gay and bi men travel to Pride festivals and other large LGBTQ events.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator of the White House national mpox response said, “Without renewed vaccination and prevention efforts, we are at risk for a resurgence of mpox. Vaccine is a really important tool, even if it’s not perfect.”

Dr. Leanna Gordon, the medical director of preventive medicine at Howard Brown, underscored the importance of those who are at risk for developing mpox get two doses of the Jynneos vaccine to provide protection for themselves and their sexual partners

“One of our major concerns is that our population at risk are under-vaccinated,” Gordon said. “We haven’t had as much interest in the vaccine as we would like.”

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