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Mpox cases nearly double what they were at the same time last year

Mpox virus particles. Via CDC/ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

(NEW YORK) — Mpox cases are on the rise in the U.S., increasing to almost double what they were at the same time last year, according to new CDC data.

There is a national year-to-date estimate of 511 cases as of mid-March, compared to 287 cases during the same period last year. New York City has been dealing with over 100 cases so far this year, whereas last year, the city only had 30.

Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, is a disease that is rarely fatal, and its symptoms are similar to smallpox but milder, according to the CDC.

While historically found in central and west Africa, cases began popping up in the U.S. in May 2022. Since then, over 32,000 cases have been reported, as well as 58 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC. The outbreak led the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency in 2022, and the outbreak was contained largely due to vaccination uptake in high-risk groups.

“Our fight against mpox relies heavily on our collective action to get vaccinated, especially in high-risk scenarios. The increase in cases is a stark reminder of the virus’s presence and the ongoing need for vigilance and preventive measures,” said Dr. John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor.

Public health experts say the mpox virus does not discriminate. It will spread between any two people. However, gay and bisexual men and certain other groups have a higher risk because the virus started spreading in this community first. The mpox virus — characterized by a painful rash and deep lesion — primarily spreads via skin-to-skin contact..

The Jynneos vaccine is recommended for those at high risk of infection, including those who have been exposed to someone with mpox, according to the CDC. Others eligible for the shot are those who identify as gay, bisexual, or a man who has sex with other men who have had more than one sexual partner or been diagnosed with more than one sexually transmitted disease in the past six months. Those with HIV or other immune-compromising conditions are also eligible.

The vaccine consists of two doses and may be given intradermally or between the top layers of your skin. There are currently no recommendations for an annual booster. Locations offering the vaccine can be found on the CDC website.

Mpox typically spreads through intimate and close contact with a person who is infected with the monkeypox virus, including via sex, kissing, or prolonged face-to-face interactions, according to the CDC. One of the most common signs of infection is a rash on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or near the genitals. Other symptoms mirror those of respiratory illnesses, including fever, chills, exhaustion, and headache.

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