Governor Pritzker declares monkeypox virus outbreak in Illinois a public health emergency

CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said Monday monkeypox virus a public health emergency and declared Illinois a disaster area for the disease.

The statement applies statewide and will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health to coordinate logistics to assist with vaccine distribution and treatment and prevention efforts. The statement will also help coordinate the state’s response with the federal government.

“MPV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent further spread,” Governor Pritzker said in a press release. “That’s why I’m declaring a state of emergency to ensure smooth coordination between state agencies and all levels of government, increasing our ability to prevent and treat disease quickly. We’ve seen this virus have a disproportionate impact on the LGBTQ+ community during its initial spread. Here in Illinois, we will ensure that our LGBTQ+ community has the resources it needs to stay safe while ensuring that members are not not stigmatized when accessing essential health care.”

The proclamation takes effect immediately and will remain in place for 30 days. The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern on July 23.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady released a statement endorsing the state’s public health emergency declaration and saying an additional statement for the city will not is not necessary:

“This emergency declaration brings increased and needed attention to the outbreak of Monkeypox (MPV) we are seeing here in Chicago, in our state and across the country. Since the beginning of this outbreak, the Department of Public Health of Chicago is working diligently with clinical and community partners to educate and vaccinate residents at increased risk and we will continue to do so.Ultimately, however, we need more support from the federal level to fully respond. to the threat that MPV poses to our city.We hope this statement joins a chorus of others across the country and encourages the rapid scaling up and distribution of vaccines.This statement will empower the state to use powers emergency supply and directly involving other state agencies, such as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), in the Chicago does not require a separate emergency declaration te because we are covered by that of the State, and in addition, we already have a local emergency y supply process; a strong local distribution network; and a diverse group of clinical and community partners working to educate and vaccinate Chicagoans at increased risk.”

Monkeypox: what we know so far

Since July 23, the number of monkeypox cases in Chicago alone has nearly tripled in less than a week. Cases are also skyrocketing across the state.

As of Monday, a total of 520 monkeypox cases were reported in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Health. This total includes all probable and confirmed cases.

The city of Chicago has reported a total of 330 cases as of July 28.

“Hopefully that will help with, you know, a) funding, and b) really, the big issue will be getting the vaccines out,” Dr. Karen Krueger said.

Krueger is an infectious disease specialist at Northwestern Medicine. She supports the governor’s decision and says direct and prolonged contact with an infected person is how monkeypox is spread.

“So far I haven’t really seen community transmission like this,” Krueger said. “These are really people who have had very close contact with someone else.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said monkeypox can be spread through close, personal and often skin-to-skin contact. Officials noted the the virus is spreading mainly among men with same-sex partners.

Kisses, hugs and sexual contact are the most common means of spread.

“It can also be spread on sheets, clothing, or kitchen utensils — things like that — and then those things are shared with another person,” Krueger said.

She said catching monkeypox in the air – for example by being in large crowds – is less likely, but possible.

Monkeypox begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to an outbreak of lesions, usually within days. A full list of symptoms can be found here.

Patients have described extremely painful sores all over the body.

CDC officials said symptoms typically begin “within three weeks of exposure to the virus.” The illness usually lasts two to four weeks.

Cases of monkeypox often clear up after a few weeks without further treatment. Some reported cases have been more serious and have resulted in hospitalizations.

“The majority of people are able to manage their symptoms at home and just walk the course,” Krueger said.

It’s good news. But the bad news is that those who catch the virus are contagious for two to four weeks and must self-isolate.

“Generally, we tell them for at least 21 days, to self-isolate; so really only to leave their house for urgent purposes, or to go to the doctor,” Krueger said.

Smallpox vaccine is used for monkeypox, but supply is strictly limited at this time. The declaration of a state of emergency could help put Illinois at the top of the vaccine distribution list.

Kozlov also asked Dr Krueger if we would need another shutdown to slow the spread of the virus. She said she didn’t see that happening.

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