While daily cases decreased and have remained low since peaking, Chicago had a slight uptick in cases that began in April 2023.
“The public health emergency is over, but cases continue,” says Dr. Jason E. Zucker, infectious diseases specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “There may be a risk for a resurgence in cases, so it is important for people to get vaccinated and to know that mpox is still out there and to get tested if they have symptoms.”
Dr. Furuya and Dr. Zucker explain what to know about the vaccines and where people can get the two-dose shots. They also share what to know about the mpox virus, including its symptoms and available treatments.
How effective is the vaccine for mpox, and where can someone get the two-dose shots? How can people get tested for mpox?
Dr. Furuya: Vaccines developed against smallpox are effective in preventing mpox infection. Data from the CDC published in May showed that one of the vaccine formulations, called JYNNEOS, was 75% effective after one dose and 86% effective after the second dose.
JYNNEOS is available through local health departments, public health clinics, and hospitals. It is a series of two injections given four weeks apart. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOH) states that the JYNNEOS vaccine can be administered to:
- People of any sexual orientation or gender identity who have or may have multiple or anonymous sex partners or participate or may participate in group sex.
- People of any sexual orientation or gender identity whose sex partners are eligible per the criteria above.
- People who know or suspect they have been exposed to mpox in the last 14 days.
- Anyone who considers themselves to be at risk for mpox through sex or other intimate contact.
More information is available on the NYCDOH Mpox site and people can find their nearest vaccination site in its vaccine location finder.
Dr. Zucker: If people are experiencing symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider who can test for mpox. People in New York City can also call 311, where they can be connected to providers who can get check for symptoms and order tests for mpox. In addition, the NewYork-Presbyterian Comprehensive Health Program’s Sexual Health Clinic and New York City Department of Health Sexual Health Clinics are available for testing and vaccination.
It is important for people to get vaccinated and to know that it takes two to three weeks for the vaccines to work. Additionally, it is possible that some people may still get mpox even after vaccination, but it is likely that vaccination makes it less severe. It is also important to know that just being vaccinated does not necessarily mean people no longer have to worry about mpox.
What causes the mpox virus?
Dr. Furuya: Mpox is caused by the human mpox virus that is part of the same family of viruses as the variola virus that causes smallpox. It has been known to cause infections in humans since the 1970s, and it has mostly been seen in Central and West Africa in people who had contact with animals like monkeys, squirrels, and other rodents. Up until the outbreak in 2022, most infections outside of these African countries have been travel-related.
What do we know about the status of cases?
Dr. Furuya: As of June 7, the U.S. has had over 30,000 confirmed cases, of which 4,262 have been reported in New York, the state with the second highest number of cases.
Many of the cases happen to be spread among social networks of people who self-identify as gay or bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Because many cases appear to be spread through close, intimate contact within these social networks, people are often developing skin lesions localized to the genital, anal, and groin areas, and these can mimic sexually transmitted infections like syphilis and genital herpes. However, anyone in close contact with an infected person could get infected, and not all the cases are occurring within these social networks.
Dr. Zucker: While the vast majority of those who have been diagnosed to date with the
mpox virus are men who have sex with men, anyone can get and spread mpox.