CDC’s optimistic outbreak may slow as cases drop in major cities

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is cautiously optimistic that the United States is slowing the spread of monkeypox, as new cases fall in several major cities.

“We watch this with cautious optimism and really hope that many of our risk reduction messages and our vaccines will get out there and work,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday in an update. update on the monkeypox outbreak.

Although monkeypox cases continue to rise nationwide, the speed of the outbreak appears to be slowing, Walensky said. The United States has reported nearly 17,000 cases of monkeypox since May, more than any other country in the world, according to CDC data.

In New York, which has reported more infections than any other jurisdiction, new cases of monkeypox fell from more than 70 a day on average to nine on Thursday, according to data from the city’s health department.

Dr. Aswhin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, said earlier this week that the outbreak had slowed due to increased vaccination and community outreach efforts. New York City has reported a total of 2,888 cases of monkeypox so far.

In Chicago, another major epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, new cases rose from 141 in the week ending July 30 to 74 for the week ending August 20, according to the health department. from the city. Chicago has reported a total of 807 cases so far.

“We’re not seeing the potentially exponential growth that we were seeing early on, which is reassuring,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live event earlier this week. “Too early to say things look really good, but there are definitely signs of a slowdown in cases,” Awardy said.

According to Dawn O’Connell, who heads the office responsible for the national reserve at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The CDC previously estimated that up to 1.7 million gay and bisexual men who are HIV-positive or eligible for medications to reduce their risk of contracting HIV face the greatest health risk from monkeypox.

The United States has distributed 1.5 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine so far and more than 3 million doses are expected to be available by the end of the last distribution cycle, according to O’Connell.

The epidemic disproportionately affects black and Hispanic men. About 30% of monkeypox patients are white, 32% are Hispanic and 23% are black, according to CDC data. Whites make up about 59% of the US population while Blacks and Hispanics make up 13% and 19% respectively.

The monkeypox vaccine, called Jynneos in the US, is given in two doses 28 days apart. Patients won’t get full protection from the vaccine until two weeks after the second dose is given, according to the CDC. Data from 19 jurisdictions shows that nearly 97% of injections given so far have been first doses, according to Walensky.

About 94% of monkeypox cases are associated with sexual contact and almost all of the people who have contracted the virus are men who have sex with men, according to Demetre Daskalakis, deputy head of the monkeypox response team. of the White House.

A CDC survey of 824 gay and bisexual men found that 48% of respondents have reduced their number of sexual partners and 50% have reduced their on-time sex during the current outbreak. A separate CDC study found that a 40% decrease in on-time sex would reduce the eventual percentage of gay and bisexual men infected with monkeypox by up to 31%.

“We’re actually seeing vaccines coming out, behavioral changes, harm reduction messages being heard and implemented,” Walensky said. “And it all works together to bend the curve.”

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