A detailed analysis of monkeypox case records released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers new insight into the epidemic, which disproportionately affects men who have sex with men, particularly those who are black and Hispanic.
As of July 22, 2,891 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States, about two months after the first case was reported in the country. Case report forms containing additional epidemiological and clinical information were submitted to the CDC for 41% of these cases, although not all details were complete in all of these forms.
Of the cases for which data are available, 94% involved men who reported having recently had sexual or intimate contact with another man. More than half (54%) of the cases were in blacks and Hispanics, a group that makes up about one-third (34%) of the general US population. And the share of cases among blacks has increased in recent weeks, according to CDC analysis.
“Public health efforts should prioritize gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, who are currently disproportionately affected, for prevention and testing, while addressing equity, minimizing stigma and maintaining vigilance for transmission in other populations,” the authors of the report said.
Further analysis shows that all patients had a rash. However, genital rash has been reported more frequently in the current outbreak than in “typical” monkeypox. This was the most frequent location of the rashes (46%), followed by the arms (40%), face (38%) and legs (37%). More than a third of cases for which data are available reported rash in four or more regions.
However, early warning signs of the disease are less common in the current epidemic than in the case of “typical” monkeypox. In about 2 out of 5 cases, the disease started with the rash – but no prodromal symptoms reported like chills, headache or malaise. About 2 in 5 cases also did not report a fever.
The report authors emphasize that anyone with a rash consistent with monkeypox should be tested for the virus, regardless of sexual or gender identity or the presence of other symptoms.
Of the cases for which data were available, less than 1 in 10 (8%) required hospitalization due to monkeypox. No deaths have been reported.
Of those with available vaccination status, 14% had received a smallpox vaccine, including 3% who had received a dose of Jynneos during this outbreak. At least one person with monkeypox had symptoms more than three weeks after their first dose of the Jynneos vaccine.
A “substantial proportion” of monkeypox cases have been reported in people living with HIV, who may be at higher risk of severe disease. Further analyzes of this group are ongoing, according to the CDC.
The agency says it “continually assesses new evidence and adapts response strategies as information about changing case demographics, clinical characteristics, transmission and vaccine effectiveness becomes available.” available”.