Statement on monkeypox outbreak from Dr. Rex Archer

August 5, 2022

As a result of the rapidly growing number of moneypox cases in the United States, Xavier Becerra, health secretary to President Biden has now declared the monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency.

This indicates the virus is a threat to the country and will put additional measures in place that can slow, and potentially contain this outbreak in the US.

This designation now requires hospitals to report cases of monkeypox, vaccination levels, severity of illness and serves as an additional wake up call for our medical community as well as patients who may be at risk.

We don’t fully know how monkeypox spreads, making it more difficult to track and stop. Monkeypox has inaccurately been seen as a virus impacting only the LGBT community. However, it is clear there are cases of kissing, touching lesions, and even surfaces and clothing which have spread the disease. Children have been diagnosed with monkeypox. Mammals can be infected by orthopoxviruses, of which monkeypox, cowpox, and smallpox are close cousins. There is potential that some household pets can also be affected. This was the source of the 2003 monkeypox outbreak in the Kansas City Metro area.

The best news is the monkeypox emergency is in an early stage. We have the potential to mitigate the spread before it becomes a crisis in our communities.

In the meantime, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and a rash should refrain from touching others and seek a medical diagnosis immediately.

If you have been exposed to someone suspected or confirmed of having monkeypox you should call your local health department for advice on potential prevention and early treatment options. Fortunately, we already have a vaccine, that if given within the first 1-4 days after exposure can completely prevent a person getting monkeypox, and even if given between 4-14 days can reduce the severity of disease.

Rex Archer, MD, MPH
Director of Population and Public Health
Professor of Public Health