The monkeypox virus is considered a low risk to the general American public and cannot be compared to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a senior US health official who was in Phoenix Tuesday.
Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant US Secretary of Health, said monkeypox was “not another COVID-19” and the risk to the general public was low.
Levine made her comments at the Indian Phoenix Medical Center after she held a private hearing on burnout with healthcare workers alongside US General Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy.
“This is not a coronavirus,” Levin said. “It’s a completely different virus. It’s spread through close personal contacts, so it’s spread in a completely different way.” “The CDC is monitoring the situation closely, both in the United States and internationally…the cases so far have not been serious.”
In early May, the World Health Organization confirmed a case of monkeypox in a British traveler returning from Nigeria, where the disease is spreading.
As of Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed one case of monkeypox in the United States, in an adult male in Massachusetts who recently traveled to Canada.
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US general surgeon: CDC tracking monkeypox ‘very closely’
Murthy said the CDC is working closely with doctors, nurses and states to make sure there is adequate surveillance, should an additional case emerge.
“Currently, the number of cases and suspected cases is very small and very limited,” he said. “If you look at the last time the United States dealt with a major outbreak of monkeypox, everyone who had the virus in that case made a full recovery.”
The United States also has a supply of vaccines that the CDC believes will be effective against monkeypox, he said, which is reassuring.
“People should know that this is an issue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pursuing very closely in partnership with local and state authorities,” he said. “Monkeypox is a virus that presents with flu-like symptoms and can also present with a rash and this rash can sometimes last up to two weeks.”
The last time the United States had an outbreak of monkeypox was in 2003, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 47 confirmed and suspected cases after some people came into contact with infected prairie dogs found next to a shipment of small mammals from Ghana.
Monkeypox does not occur naturally in the United States, says the CDC, but cases have occurred associated with international travel or the importation of animals from areas where the disease is more common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges US health care providers to exercise caution in patients with rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Health care workers feel intimidated and harassed on consulting working days
Murthy and Levine held a private hearing with health care workers in Phoenix on Tuesday and discussed the Surgeon General’s national advice on health worker depletion.
They were joined by Dr. Loretta Christensen, Chief Medical Officer of the Indian Health Services, and Dr. Claire Nechipornco, a pediatrician and acting director of ambulance services at Indian Phoenix Medical Centre.
The National Advisory says that of the 26,174 state, tribal, local and regional public health workers surveyed during March and April 2021, nearly 23.4% reported feeling “intimidated, threatened or harassed at work.”
Murthy said he is visiting health care workers across the country to learn and talk about how to build a broader movement to address the burnout experienced by health care workers. Even before the pandemic, he said, health care workers were feeling overwhelmed.
“Health care workers have faced wave after wave of COVID-19 patients as they have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks as well,” he said. “Of course, they had to deal with the onslaught of misinformation, which was one of the biggest epidemics during this pandemic.”
Murthy said that some of the common words he heard from health care workers during his hearings include sadness, shock, exhaustion and exhaustion. He said sectors outside of government need to address the problem as well.
“We need private insurance companies and health systems and we need educational institutions and the whole community over everything so that we can eventually take care of our health care workers,” he said.
Contact the reporter at Stephanie.Innes@gannett.com or at 602-444-8369. Follow her on Twitter Tweet embed
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