Chicago Doctors Warn of Surge in Mpox Cases Among Vaccinated Individuals
Doctors in Chicago are warning of a sudden uptick in cases of Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox. Howard Brown Health, an LGBTQ-focused health clinic in Chicago, recently reported seeing an increase in Mpox cases, with eight diagnosed since April 17, compared to only one in the previous three months. The new cluster is the largest seen in the United States so far this year, with many of the reported cases occurring among individuals who were vaccinated. While Mpox isn't thought to have the epidemic potential of diseases like Covid-19, health officials have long warned that its threat may not be over yet. In April, a modeling assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated a greater than 35% chance of resurgent outbreaks in most parts of the U.S. if nothing changes—outbreaks that could be larger than those seen last year. The CDC pointed out that vaccination rates for high-risk groups are still low in these regions.
Mpox is a viral disease that spreads through close contact and primarily affects men who have sex with men. The infection causes distinct rashes that can initially look like pimples or blisters, and other symptoms can include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, aches, and fatigue. In rare cases, Mpox can turn deadly, especially for people with weakened immune systems. Experts caution that many vaccines, including Mpox, reduce the likelihood of infection but do not completely eliminate risk. Despite the ongoing pandemic, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated as individuals who are fully vaccinated are likely to experience milder symptoms.
To prevent severe disease, the CDC suggests that individuals at risk receive vaccinations. Experts are urging people at risk—primarily sexually active gay men—to get both doses of the Jynneos Mpox vaccine. Vaccination is especially important for people with advanced HIV, who are most likely to develop severe Mpox illness. However, more than half of people in the recent clusters were fully vaccinated, suggesting that immunity may wane after vaccination or prior infection. According to the CDC's advisory, while vaccinated individuals may occasionally experience infections, getting vaccinated can lessen the severity of the illness, thereby decreasing the likelihood of hospitalization.
“It's important to remember that vaccines—while incredibly helpful—are not our only way to reduce the risk of contracting Mpox,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Health Department. Other risk reduction strategies include “things like avoiding social and sexual contact if you have new skin lesions and asking your intimate contacts if they are experiencing symptoms or new skin changes.” Ultimately, experts agree that vaccination is our best defense against the spread of Mpox, and vaccination helps lower the chances of serious illness and hospitalization.
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