Monkeypox: A New, New Public Health Emergency

Learn all about the new epidemic

The world is now consumed by the possibility of a new public health emergency: monkeypox. The disease, which spreads through the bodily fluids of an infected person, and by touching objects that have been used by a person who has monkeypox, is endemic in 10 countries in west and central Africa. However, the rest of the world has never faced an outbreak of this caliber. The United States had a small outbreak in 2003, but it was quickly contained, only affecting dozens, while this most recent epidemic has infected thousands of people in the country. The United States has had monkeypox vaccines for decades, but they cannot be widely distributed because of the way that they are stored. In addition, as cases skyrocket, the messaging surrounding monkeypox has been confusing at best. For instance, the disease is generally spread through sex, especially by males who have sex with other males, but it can also be spread through touching someone who is infected. However, the latter was not clearly communicated when the CDC first detected cases. It is possible that this led to an increased spread of monkeypox early on. These failures, in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 response, which has led the CDC to institute a “shakeup” of the organization, have brought the CDC’s reliability into question. Hopefully, this infographic can provide a better understanding of what monkeypox is, who it affects, and the lasting impacts that this outbreak could have on our society.      

(Data in the infographic below is current as of 8/26/2022.)