The federal government declared a public health emergency today in response to the growing number of monkeypox cases.
Federal officials say the announcement would boost funds and resources to fight the virus that has infected more than 6,000 people nationwide. Most cases have been concentrated among the LGBTQ community but are primarily among men who have sex with men.
"We are prepared to take our responsibility to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said to reporters during a briefing on Thursday.
According to Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the declaration will provide resources and increase access to care. She also said it will expand the CDC's ability to share data.
The monkeypox virus spreads through direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from an infected person, touching fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox, and contact with respiratory secretions.
Officials say this direct contact can happen during intimate contact. Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory symptoms, and exhaustion. A rash may also be located on or near genitals, or in other areas such as hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
According to the CDC, the rash will undergo several stages, including scabs, before healing, and the rash may be painful or itchy, and they can look like pimples or blisters.
Monkeypox symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
The federal announcement comes after San Diego County elected and health officials held a press conference to declare a public health emergency in the region. The meeting came one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency over the viral outbreak.