- As the World Health Organization classified the global spread of monkeypox an emergency, Florida remains an American epicenter for the disease
- More than 200 cases were identified in South Florida alone last week
- The state requested additional vaccine supplies as it struggles to keep up with local demand
- Despite the spread, the Florida Department of Health maintains that danger to the general populace is low
The World Health Organization (WHO) this week deemed the ongoing monkeypox outbreak to be a global health emergency. While most cases have been identified in Europe, Florida is experiencing rapid transmission, causing state leaders and medical experts to raise concerns.
South Florida counties have the highest concentration of cases statewide, with Broward and Miami-Dade counties collectively identifying more than 200 cases over the past week, according to U.S. Center for Disease Control data. Per state data, the disease has been found in 16 counties, a jump from 12 counties last week.
“Thus far, the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the five-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida,” the Pinellas County branch of the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) said in a release. “Epidemiologists are investigating each case and contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.”
Following a rapid spike in cases across the state, FDOH last week requested additional vaccines from the federal government in an attempt to slow the outbreak. The department reported that Florida had one of the highest case counts of any state, incubating 10 percent of all positive tests in the nation.
Florida leaders have brought the spread monkeypox to the forefront of the political newsdesk, including gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist, who recently demanded rapid improvement to the structure of rapid response within the state.
“I have heard the same concerns over and over again from constituents, friends, community leaders, and providers across Florida. People can’t get tested, can’t get vaccinated, and can’t get any answers,” said Crist. “We spent the first year of the COVID pandemic fighting a disease we couldn’t treat or vaccinate against. Well, guess what? For Monkeypox, we HAVE a vaccine, we HAVE treatment, and we HAVE tests. We can – and must – be doing more to keep this illness from spreading.”
At the federal level, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that a national emergency declaration is under consideration, though claimed the country was “handling [the situation] well.”
Amid surging numbers, experts have assured that the risk of monkeypox to the general public is low, though vaccines used for smallpox have been shown to be effective in preventing monkeypox.
“This is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu,” the FDOH statement continued. “People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or breathing the air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. It requires close contact over a period of time or direct contact such as kissing or sharing drinks.”