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Monkeypox Outbreak

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Saturday, as they declared a global emergency, WHO’s highest level of alert.

But the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal. Similar declarations were made for the Zika virus in 2016 in Latin America and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In Pennsylvania, less than 60 cases had been reported prior to Monday, according to the CDC. The Pennsylvania Department of Health does not provide case counts at the county level in order to protect patient confidentiality, a spokesperson said.

“Numbers are going up but for most of us we are unlikely to encounter Monkeypox Today,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology for UPMC. “We highly anticipate this will spread to other people who don’t meet those descriptions who don’t have that kind of social and physical contact.”

Graham said Monkeypox is not as transmissible as COVID-19, and there are already treatment options available.

“We know that there are some interventions we can do to prevent transmission including the role of vaccines previously developed for the very related smallpox virus,” Graham said. “We also have some treatments already in place including anti-viral which can be appropriate for you if you develop the disease.”

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