Monkeypox is a poxvirus. It generally causes pimple- or blister-like lesions and flu-like symptoms such as fever. The disease is rarely fatal.
Monkeypox spreads through close contact. This includes direct physical contact with lesions as well as “respiratory secretions” shared through face-to-face interaction and touching objects that have been contaminated by monkeypox lesions or fluids. The virus may also pass to a fetus through the placenta.
Anyone can become ill from monkeypox, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 99% of monkeypox cases in the United States in the 2022 outbreak have been among men who have sex with men. However, monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease.
Monkeypox is usually found in West and Central Africa, but additional cases have been seen in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world in recent years. Those cases are typically linked to international travel or imported animals infected with the poxvirus.
WHO has named two additional virus variants and is working with International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) to rename the monkeypox virus using non-stigmatizing, non-offensive social and cultural nomenclature.
Timeline and 2022 Outbreak
The first human case of monkeypox
is recorded in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).
July 16, 2021 – The CDC and local health officials in Dallas announce they are investigating a case of monkeypox in a traveler from Nigeria. “The individual is a City of Dallas resident who traveled from Nigeria to Dallas, arriving at Love Field airport on July 9, 2021. The person is hospitalized in Dallas and is in stable condition,” the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services says in a statement.
May 17, 2022 –
The first confirmed US case of monkeypox in the 2022 outbreak is reported to the CDC
in a traveler who returned to Massachusetts from Canada.
May 19, 2022 – WHO reports that death rates in the monkeypox outbreak have been between 3% and 6%.
May 23, 2022 – The CDC announces the release of monkeypox vaccine doses from the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile for “high-risk people.” In the United States, the two-dose Jynneos vaccine is licensed to prevent smallpox and specifically to prevent monkeypox.
May 26, 2022 – CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announces that the United States is distributing the vaccine for monkeypox to states with reported cases and recommends vaccination for people at highest risk of infection due to direct contact with someone who has monkeypox.
June 2022 –
The first possible case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox is reported in two men and their pet in Paris, says Dr. Rosamund Lewis, technical lead on the monkeypox response for WHO. The men were diagnosed with monkeypox at a hospital in Paris. Twelve days after their symptoms started, their 4-year-old Italian greyhound also started showing symptoms, according to a report published in the journal, The Lancet
June 22, 2022 – The CDC announces a partnership with five commercial laboratories to ramp up testing capacity in the United States.
June 23, 2022 – New York City launches the first monkeypox vaccination clinic in the United States.
July 22, 2022 – Two American children contract monkeypox — a first in the United States. According to the CDC, the two cases are unrelated.
July 23, 2022 – WHO declares monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, “an extraordinary event that may constitute a public health risk to other countries through international spread of disease and may require an international coordinated response.”
July 27, 2022 – After weeks of monkeypox vaccines being in limited supply, more than 786,000 additional doses are made available in the United States, according to HHS.
July 29, 2022 –
New York declares
a state disaster emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak.
August 1, 2022 – California and Illinois declare states of emergency. California has reported more than 800 cases, while Illinois has had more than 500, according to data from the CDC.
August 2, 2022 –
A monkeypox response team is created
by the Biden administration. President Joe Biden names Robert Fenton from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the White House national monkeypox response coordinator.
August 2, 2022 – A report from Spain’s National Institute for Microbiology indicates two men, ages 31 and 44, who died from monkeypox in unrelated cases had both developed encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, which can be triggered by viral infections. Encephalitis is a very rare condition known to be associated with monkeypox. It has been reported in people with monkeypox in West Africa and in a patient in the United States in 2003 during the small outbreak linked to imported prairie dogs.
August 4, 2022 – The Biden administration declares the monkeypox outbreak a national public health emergency.
August 5, 2022 – A report published by the CDC finds that 94% of cases were among men who had recent sexual or close intimate contact with another man. Further, 54% of cases were among Black Americans and Latinos.
August 9, 2022 – In an effort to stretch the limited supply of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, federal health officials authorize administering smaller doses using a different method of injection. The new injection strategy allows health-care providers to give shallow injections intradermally, in between layers of the skin, with one-fifth the standard dose size instead of subcutaneously, into the fatty layer below the skin, with the larger dose.
August 18, 2022 – The White House announces the acceleration of the HHS vaccine distribution timeline, with an additional 1.8 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine being made available. Additional vaccines will be distributed to communities hosting large LGBTQI+ events.