Another 42 men in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the past week, the state said Thursday, as federal officials declared the rapidly spreading virus a public health emergency.
The new cases were diagnosed between July 28 and Wednesday and bring the number of infections in the state to 157 since the first was announced May 18, according to a weekly update on the outbreak from the Department of Public Health.
State and local health officials are working with patients and their health care providers to identify anyone who may have had contact with the 42 men while they were infectious, the statement said.
Also Thursday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the federal public health emergency, less than two weeks after the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.” The organization currently uses that designation for only two other illnesses: polio and COVID-19.
The federal emergency declaration will enable health agencies to access federal funding and may speed the development of diagnostics or treatments.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 6,617 cases of monkeypox virus nationwide amid the global outbreak this year, which has caused 26,864 cases worldwide, according to CDC data.
Most patients recover from the virus within two to four weeks, according to the statement. Anyone with the virus is advised to isolate and avoid having contact with others until they are no longer infectious.
The monkeypox vaccine is now available at 14 sites across the state, and 5,875 doses of the vaccine had been administered as of Wednesday, officials said.
The vaccine remains extremely limited in availability both nationally and locally, and it is only accessible in Massachusetts to people who live or work in the state and meet CDC eligibility requirements, officials said. Priority is given to those at the greatest risk of exposure to a person with monkeypox.
Anyone who believes they qualify for a vaccination can contact their health care providers for an evaluation to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements.
Initial cases of monkeypox — related to the smallpox virus — were linked to international travel. Men who have sex with men now make up a large proportion of identified cases, though anyone who is exposed to someone with monkeypox is at risk, according to the statement.
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.
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