• The CDC is investigating new cases of mpox in the U.S.
  • Cases of the viral disease have dropped significantly since last summer.
  • However, some cases are being seen in people who are vaccinated.

This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this month they are investigating cases of mpox in people who were previously vaccinated against the disease.

Cases have dropped significantly since their peak last summer, but in recent weeks there has been a slight increase in the number of cases, particularly in Chicago and France – and even in vaccinated individuals.

The CDC reported that in Chicago about 50% of the cases were in people who had previously been vaccinated against the disease.

The disease mpox is rare virus related to smallpox. It can result in lesions, rash, blisters, chills and fever.

In recent weeks, 20 cases of mpox have been reported in the city, according to the local public health department.

The Howard Brown Health organization in Chicago, an LGBTQ+ focused clinic, released a statement earlier this month indicating several new cases have been discovered in the greater Chicago area.

Although the number of cases is currently low, it was the highest rate of increase in Chicago since November 2022.

Health officials throughout the country are keeping an eye on this increase as there is always a possibility of another resurgence – especially as the summer approaches and there are more celebratory activities in the LGBTQ+ community.

“No vaccine is 100% efficacious,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland.

The CDC points out that even if a vaccination isn’t completely effectives at stopping disease it can still help. If a vaccinated person gets sick, their symptoms may be far less severe than if they were not vaccinated.

“JYNNEOS has been shown to be about 70% efficacious so breakthrough infections were expected to occur to some degree even in those who received both doses of vaccine,” Adalja told Healthline.

After an individual gets their first dose of the JYNNEOS, they should get their second dose between 28 and 35 days after the first dose to be fully protected.

One big problem about the resurgence of mpox is that, as the CDC points out, few at-risk people have been fully vaccinated against mpox.

Only 37% of individuals who are at risk have received at least one dose of the mpox vaccine and 23% have received both vaccines according to CDC data.

Experts point out that peak immunity for the vaccine occurs approximately 14 days after the second dose.

Experts hope at-risk people get initial vaccine doses, but even as cases tick up there are no plans for a booster shot yet.

“Currently, we don’t know how long the vaccine and to what degree the vaccine protects individuals from mpox,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

While cases are ticking up in the U.S., globally the disease appears to be under control.

On May 11th the World Health Organization indicated that mpox was no longer a public health emergency of international concern as there was a decline in the number of cases “and no changes in the severity and clinical manifestation of the disease.”

Since the peak of mpox cases in August, there has been a strong and steady decline. According to data from the CDC, which reports mpox data every other week, shows the 7-day average number of cases has been below 10 cases nationally since December 23, 2022.

“There are two major reasons that likely resulted in the decrease of mpox,” Schaffner explains to Healthline.

“First, that deployment of the vaccine. And secondly, and more importantly, people started to change their activities and behaviors as information about mpox got out,” he said.

He said that more people started to use condoms, although not sufficiently protective against mpox, many also started to limit their sexual partners, and there was more inspection of themselves and each other before engaging in intimacy.

Health experts continue to remind the public of the symptoms of mpox, particularly in vulnerable populations.

If you have swollen lymph nodes, body ace, fever, chills, and or lesions around your genitalia that can sometimes be painful, it warrants surveillance and testing for mpox from a healthcare provider.

It spreads through close contact especially skin-to-skin contact.

Last year the biggest outbreak of mpox occurred in the gay and bisexual community and in men who have sex with men. According to data, not all members of these groups tend to be at high risk. Those with multiple or anonymous partners tend to be at the highest risk as well as people who have a weakened immune system.

“There are still many high risk people that are not fully vaccinated, and the virus continues to circulate at low levels in the United States, and at high levels in parts of Africa so sporadic outbreaks – such as occurring in Chicago – will likely continue,” Adalja explain to Healthline.

Experts say in order to stop the virus it is vital that people get the mpox vaccination.

“The key is getting more of the 1.6 million people at risk in the United States fully vaccinated against the virus,” says Adalja.

Dr. Rajiv Bahl, is an emergency medicine physician, board member of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, and health writer. You can find him at RajivBahlMD.com.

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