Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionally affected by the Monkeypox disease, according to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report offers new insight into the outbreak, which is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men, especially those who are Black and Hispanic.
“Public health efforts should prioritize gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, who are currently disproportionately affected, for prevention and testing, while addressing equity, minimizing stigma, and maintaining vigilance for transmission in other populations,” the authors of the report say.
Two months after the country’s first case was reported, there were 2,891 cases of Monkeypox reported in the United States by July 22. Case report forms with additional epidemiologic and clinical information were submitted to the CDC for 41percent of those cases, though not all details were complete in all of those forms.
About 94 percent were in men who reported contracting the disease after having recent sexual or close intimate contact with another man. More than half (54 percent) of the cases were among Black and Hispanic people, a group that represents about a third (34 percent) of the general U.S. population.
The share of cases among Black people has grown in recent weeks, according to the CDC analysis.
Analysis also showed that all the patients had a rash. However, a genital rash was more commonly reported in the current outbreak than in “typical” Monkeypox. It was the most common location for rash (46 percent), followed by arms (40 percent), face (38 percent) and legs (37 percent). More than a third of cases with available data reported a rash in four or more regions.
The report said early warning signs of illness are less common in the current outbreak compared with “typical” Monkeypox. In about 2 in 5 cases, the illness started with the rash, but there were no reported prodromal symptoms such as chills, headache or malaise. About 2 in 5 cases also did not report fever.
Authors of the report say that anyone with a rash consistent with Monkeypox should be tested for the virus, regardless of their sexual or gender identity or the presence of other symptoms.
Among those cases for which data was available, fewer than 1 in 10 (8 percent) needed hospitalization due to Monkeypox. No deaths were reported.
About 14 percent of those affected were vaccinated for smallpox, including 3 percent who had gotten one dose of Jynneos during this outbreak. At least one person with Monkeypox had symptoms more than three weeks after their first dose of the Jynneos vaccine.
A “substantial proportion” of Monkeypox cases have been reported among people with HIV, who may be at higher risk of severe illness. More analysis of this group is underway, according to the CDC.
The agency says it is “continually evaluating new evidence and tailoring response strategies as information on changing case demographics, clinical characteristics and transmission” emerges.
The Biden administration has declared the Monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. to be a public health emergency.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take this virus seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
Monkeypox is a poxvirus related to smallpox and cowpox. It generally causes pimple- or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms such as fever.
The lesions usually appear on the arms and legs, but in the latest outbreak, they’re showing up more in the genital and perianal area.
If you notice a new rash or other Monkeypox symptoms, avoid any close contact with other people until you have seen a doctor and gotten tested. The CDC said people who see a healthcare provider should wear a mask and remind them that the virus is circulating in the area. If you’re diagnosed with Monkeypox, the agency recommends isolation at home and away from family members until the rash or lesions are gone.