Valley health officials report first case of mpox since January

May 19, 2023, 2:15 PM

PHOENIX — Valley health officials reported the first case of mpox since January on Friday and urged at-risk individuals to get vaccinated.

The patient, who was fully vaccinated, had mild symptoms and is recovering, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

“Like we see with other vaccines, while vaccination may not prevent disease completely, it will reduce the severity of disease,” Dr. Nick Staab, medical epidemiologist for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said in a press release.

“Last summer’s mpox outbreak led to many hospitalizations and some deaths in the U.S. People being aware of the risk of mpox in our community and getting vaccinated can prevent severe disease and decrease the spread.”

The two-dose vaccine is available through health care providers and at all Maricopa County Department of Public Health clinics.

The latest case brings the total documented in metro Phoenix since last year to 489.

The disease, which was previously known as monkeypox, most often causes symptoms including a rash, fever, headache, muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes. The virus is spread via close physical contact with an infected patient or their clothing or bedsheets. Most people don’t need medical treatment to recover.

Mpox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents. But the disease wasn’t known to spark big outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread easily among people until a year ago, when dozens of epidemics emerged in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Scientists ultimately concluded that the unprecedented outbreak was tied to sex among gay and bisexual men at raves in Spain and Belgium, marking a significant departure from the mpox’s typical pattern of spread in Africa

After a dramatic drop in cases in recent months, the World Health Organization declared last week that mpox is no longer an international emergency.

On Monday, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about a possible increase in U.S. cases the summer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Valley health officials report first case of mpox since January