The Early Signs Of Slowing Monkeypox In The USA? Good News!

Health authorities overseeing the U.S. response to the monkeypox pandemic are now using the term “cautious optimism” three months into the outbreak.

The shift in tone reflects preliminary evidence suggesting fewer new infections in large areas where the virus first surfaced and spread quickly. These include NYC, Chicago, and SF.

Federal authorities warn that it’s too soon to declare a turnaround. The slowdown in some parts of the U.S. and data indicating how high-risk persons are protecting themselves and being vaccinated are encouraging.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday that while their numbers are still growing, the rate is slowing. We hope damage minimization and vaccine effectiveness are implemented.

NPR evaluated CDC data released Wednesday showing a decline in reported cases since mid-August. In the past two weeks, the weekly average of new cases has dropped by 25%.

Reporting delays may offer an incomplete picture of the outbreak in recent weeks, making it impossible to establish if the number of cases has peaked.

The drop in some U.S. regions is similar to what was seen in several European countries, where the virus was detected before the U.S. Since late July, UK and German daily case counts have been declining. In the Netherlands and Italy, new cases have slowed.

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Cases are lower in cities. New York City, one of the outbreak’s hotspots, has witnessed a 40% drop in new infections. San Francisco health officials report fewer new cases.

San Francisco’s health officer is cautiously optimistic. “We realize it will require a lot of work and effort to maintain that declining trend,” the author says.

Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago health officials report stable new infections.

The Early Signs Of Slowing Monkeypox In USA
The Early Signs Of Slowing Monkeypox In the USA

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Janna Kerins, medical director at the Chicago Department of Public Health, says important criteria such as the average number of cases and the time it takes for cases to double have decreased. Kerins is cautious to call the outbreak over, but all signs are promising.

Gerardo Chowell-Puente, an epidemiology and biostatistics professor at Georgia State University, is modeling the monkeypox outbreak. He adds, “We are getting signals of a large slowdown, and the forecasts show this is going in the right direction” over the next four weeks.

The slowdown of the outbreak is mostly related to efforts to change the behavior of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with males, who make up the great majority of cases due to the size and variety of the U.S.

“Most of us in public health who work on this disease are very certain that most of the drop is due to behavior modification,” says Dr. Jay Varma of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Cornell Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response.

Over 94% of American monkeypox cases are sexually transmitted. CDC officials said Friday that homosexuals and queers changed their sexual behavior in response to monkeypox messaging.

Half of the online survey participants said they had fewer sexual partners, one-time sexual encounters, or dating app usage due to monkeypox. The CDC discovered that fewer “one-time sexual partnerships” could delay monkeypox transmission and cut new cases by 30%.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House monkeypox response deputy coordinator, said Friday, “This means LGBTQIA+ individuals are decreasing their risk, and it’s working.”

According to Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, the virus’s spread is slowing in the U.S. and Europe.

Klausner predicts a fall in instances in most places, although not as quickly or as sharply as the rise.

As vaccination rates climb, people build immunity, and those at highest risk change their behavior, Klausner says, monkeypox’s spread will slow.

“At this point, that hasn’t occurred,” he adds of “people who worried about sickness spreading on college campuses, daycares, and other close-contact situations.”

Some experts are pessimistic about the epidemic’s prospects.

“It’s good to see decreases,” says UCLA epidemiologist Anne Rimoin. It’s unclear how long behavioral changes may be sustained or how effective vaccines are if they caused the recent dip.

Health experts advise monkeypox-affected communities to take prophylactic steps.

Daskalakis: “Let me be clear.” We’re boosting vaccines to manage this outbreak, but the advice to restrict monkeypox exposure is temporary.

The FDA licensed the monkeypox vaccine in 2019, however, its efficacy is questionable due to a lack of high-quality real-world data. The Biden administration is offering shots intradermally to stretch the supply.

Varma said the vaccination will be successful in humans based on lab data. In medicine, nothing is certain unless it’s tested.

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