Aug. 1 (UPI) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is designating monkeypox — an infectious viral disease that’s been showing up around the world recently — as a nationally notifiable condition on Monday.
The designation means that states are now required to report all confirmed and suspected monkeypox cases to the agency within 24 hours of discovery. States must also share surveillance data such as case numbers.
“Making the condition nationally notifiable positions public health to continue to monitor and respond to monkeypox after the current outbreak recedes,” CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said last week according to Politico.
Monkeypox was first discovered in humans in Africa in 1970 and the current outbreak was first discovered in cases in Britain in May. The first U.S. cases were recorded a short time later in Massachusetts.
Since the first cases in Massachusetts, there have been a few thousand documented in other states. According to CDC data, there have been about 5,200 cases nationwide.
Prior its designation Monday as a nationally notifiable condition, states were not required to provide the CDC with data on positive cases, suspected cases or the number of people who have been treated.
“We will weigh any decision on declaring a public health emergency based on the responses we’re seeing throughout the country,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said last week according to CNN. “Bottom line is, we need to stay ahead of it and be able to end this outbreak.”
Monkeypox infection generally includes flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes followed by a blister- or pimple-like rash appearing on the skin. It commonly spreads through direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs or bodily fluid or touching items that have previously touched a rash or fluid. It can take as many as three weeks after exposure to begin seeing symptoms.
Experts say monkeypox can also spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact such as kissing, cuddling or sex.
The current outbreak has largely involved gay and bisexual men, many of whom recently reported having multiple or anonymous sex partners.
On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency, indicating that the agency believes the rising number of cases warrant a coordinated international response to prevent the outbreak from developing into a pandemic like COVID-19.
So far, two major U.S. cities have declared a public health emergency for monkeypox — New York City and San Francisco — and last week New York Gov. Hochul declared a monkeypox disaster emergency, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in containing the outbreak.
San Francisco’s emergency took effect on Monday, which mobilizes resources, accelerates emergency planning, coordinates city agencies and permits reimbursement by state and federal governments.
President Joe Biden‘s administration has authorized and released hundreds of thousands of doses of the monkeypox vaccine to be given to the most vulnerable Americans.