CHICAGO — More than 6,000 monkeypox cases have been reported across the country. On Thursday the Biden Administration declared the outbreak a national health emergency.
A move, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, said will accelerate vaccine distribution.
“Similar to what we’ve seen in Covid, where we have been able to see more vaccines move more quickly,” she said. “I’m also hopeful we’ll see some flexibility in funding.”
During a news conference, Arwady and several health experts detailed their efforts to combat the spread of the virus across Chicago.
“I really want to emphasize that there’s vaccine available no matter where you live,” she said. There’s testing available no matter where you live.”
In Chicago, 55 of its 77 neighborhoods have been affected by the outbreak, health officials said. There have been 459 confirmed cases and 21 people have been hospitalized.
“The overall risk of MPV to the general public remains low at this time. But we really want to emphasize we really want you to see a health care provider if you develop symptoms.”
Skin to skin contact like kissing, hugging and sex are common ways the virus spreads. It has mostly been detected among gay and bisexual men.
“I want to emphasize there is not nothing biologic about this virus that makes it specific to men who have sex with men,” Arwady said. “However, that is the network we have been seeing it spread the most here in Chicago and around the world.”
With Market Days, a LGBTQ-centered street festival set for Chicago this weekend, health and community leaders have been warning festivalgoers on how to avoid getting the disease.
Mark Liberson is vice president of the Northalsted Business Association.
“What we’ve done is we created an education campaign,” he said. “Our businesses, the community, have come together. We’re showing videos in our businesses and there’s material literally everywhere on North Halstead about monkeypox.”
Virus symptoms range from fever, aches and rashes.
If you’re not feeling well health experts say isolate yourself and get tested.