Monkeypox: US leads globally in most known cases

More than 3,800 monkeypox cases have been reported in the US, the most of any country around the globe, government health data shows.

The rising number of cases has reportedly prompted the Biden administration to mull declaring a national health emergency.

The virus has already been classified as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).

To date, more than 18,000 cases have been reported in 75 countries.

According to data published online by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 25 July there were 3,846 confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases in the US.

The figure – which comes amid expanded testing in addition to the growing outbreak of the virus – is now ahead of that of Spain, where 3,105 cases have so far been reported.

The two other countries with the highest number of infections, Germany and the UK, have reported 2,352 and 2,208 cases, respectively.

With cases in the US rising, the Washington Post on 25 July reported that the Biden administration was considering declaring a public health emergency.

The measure would allow the government to use federal funds to combat the outbreak, raise public awareness and better collect relevant health data.

Additionally, the administration is reportedly preparing to name a coordinator to oversee the government’s response to monkeypox from the White House.

On July 21, 50 Democratic lawmakers sent an open letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to declare a public health emergency and send millions of vaccine doses to the US from manufacturing facilities overseas.

While officials have said that gay and bisexual men – as well as healthcare workers – have so far been most at risk, fears are mounting that the virus could spread to other segments of the population.

On 22 July, the US confirmed the first cases of monkeypox in children.

The US response to the virus has so far been plagued by vaccine shortages and a slow start to testing, leading some to compare the situation to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

In Washington DC, for example, officials have warned that a “rapid increase in cases”, coupled with a “very limited” supply of vaccines, means that authorities must prioritise high-risk residents.

The city currently has the highest per capita total of infections, with 172 cases reported in the district.

Most monkeypox cases are mild, with initial symptoms including a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery, chickenpox-like rash or lesions.

So far, no deaths from the virus have been reported in the US.