Outbreak Alerts
Editor: Alyson Browett, MPH

Contributors: Noelle Huhn, MSPH, Christina Potter, MSPH, Eric Toner, MD, and Rachel Vahey, MHS
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US DECLARES PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY As anticipated, US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra today declared the growing monkeypox outbreak in the US a national public health emergency. The designation will help raise awareness, mobilize additional resources, speed distribution of vaccines and treatments, and expand the number of testing sites to help contain the outbreak, which has spread quickly since the first US case was identified in May. As of August 3, the US has confirmed more than 6,600 cases nationwide, with cases in 48 states (not Montana and Wyoming), as well as in Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. However, the true number of cases is likely higher, as individuals can only be tested after they develop symptoms, usually about 1-2 weeks following infection. 

The Biden administration has been under intense pressure from public health officials, lawmakers, patients, and advocates to more aggressively respond to the outbreak. The declaration will allow the government additional flexibility in directing money toward response efforts, access to emergency funding, and the ability to hire additional workers for the response. Secretary Becerra said he also is considering a second declaration that would help federal officials expedite medical countermeasures. This declaration would allow potential treatments and vaccines to be used without going through full federal reviews and provide more flexibility to stretch the currently available supply of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine.  

Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden named Robert Fenton, a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator, as the White House's national monkeypox response coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, as deputy coordinator. The US declaration follows a July 23 decision by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to declare monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), meant to encourage cooperation and sharing of information among nations.

VIRTUAL BRIEFING Johns Hopkins University will host a live virtual briefing on monkeypox on Wednesday, August 10 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am EDT. Johns Hopkins faculty experts will discuss topics ranging from prevention, transmission, treatment, vaccine distribution and availability, and ways to reduce stigma in the outbreak response. Registration is available here. To watch the live briefing on August 10, please go to: https://hub.jhu.edu/monkeypox-briefing/.