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Chicago Mpox Outbreak Sparks Concerns of Summer Spread

An alarm has been raised due to a mumps outbreak in Chicago, sparking concerns of potential spread during the summer months.


Alright, folks, listen up! We’ve got some news coming in from the Chicago area, and it’s got the experts worried. Seems like we might be looking at a comeback of that pesky mpox, just when we thought we were in the clear after last year’s outbreak. Can you believe it?

Now, let’s give credit where credit’s due. The U.S. response to the mpox outbreak in 2022 was seen as a success in the realm of public health, despite a few hiccups along the way. By the start of this year, we had made enough progress that the White House said, “Okay, we can officially end the public health emergency.” Sounds good, right?

Well, hold your horses because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials came out last week with a warning. They’re saying there’s a “substantial risk” of mpox making a comeback this summer. And wouldn’t you know it, this warning came right after the World Health Organization declared mpox is no longer a global health emergency. Talk about bad timing!

Now, here’s what’s got the experts scratching their heads. They found out that more than half of the people infected in this Chicago cluster had actually received some level of vaccination. How’s that for a plot twist? It’s got Nallely Mora, a research assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, thinking that maybe people didn’t follow through with the full vaccine schedule. You know, they got the first dose but forgot about that important second dose that gives you full immunity. Oops!

You see, the rates of people getting the full vaccine schedule aren’t that great. The cases of mpox had dropped significantly in recent months, with only one to three confirmed cases per day. But guess what? The virus never truly disappeared. Sneaky little thing, isn’t it?

So, here’s the deal. Experts are calling for more investigations into the effectiveness and duration of the smallpox vaccines used during last year’s outbreak. Since there’s no specific vaccine for mpox, they used the smallpox vaccines ACAM2000 and the newer Jynneos because the two viruses are closely related. Jynneos, given in two doses 28 days apart, became the go-to shot because it’s believed to have fewer side effects.

But during the early days of the outbreak, health departments’ supplies of Jynneos were stretched thin. Some ended up using all the doses they had without knowing when they’d get enough supplies for that crucial second dose. And that’s where the cracks appeared, my friends. People fell through, not getting that second dose they needed.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The difference between one dose and two doses of Jynneos is huge! CDC officials mentioned during a press briefing that one dose ranges from 36 to 75 percent effectiveness, while two doses range from 66 to 86 percent effectiveness. That’s a significant jump, right?

Martin Hirsch, a professor of medicine at Harvard University, says this difference is even more “dramatic” for folks with weakened immune systems. They’re less likely to develop a strong immune response compared to those with healthy immune systems. And guess what? Vaccination rates for high-risk individuals in the U.S. aren’t that impressive. Only 23 percent of them are fully vaccinated. Yikes!

Now, the CDC hasn’t changed its recommendations on vaccine scheduling for mpox just yet. They haven’t clarified if previously immunized folks should get another round of shots before summer hits. But hey, they’re saying if you’re at risk, exposed to mpox, or have already been infected, you should aim for a total of two mpox vaccines. That’s the word from the CDC.

If you’ve only had one dose, maybe it’s time to check if you can get that second dose to be on the safe side. But if you’ve had both doses, you can probably hold off for now. The efficacy of the vaccine doesn’t seem to fade away too quickly. So, no need to panic unless you’re at high risk, my friends.

Remember, those who should seriously consider getting vaccinated include folks who have been exposed to mpox, men who have multiple partners, immunocompromised individuals, and those working in high-risk settings like clinics and hospitals. For the rest of you, if you’re worried, have a chat with your healthcare providers. They’ll guide you in the right direction.

And let’s not forget the golden rules from last year. Wash those hands, people! Clean your clothes and linens if you’ve been infected. And, oh yeah, try to avoid those high-risk situations where skin-to-skin contact is more likely. We’ve been through this before, and we can do it again!

Stay safe, stay vigilant, and let’s keep this mpox comeback at bay. We’ve got this!

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