The monkeypox outbreak continues to swell across the globe, leading the World Health Organization on Saturday to declare it a public health emergency of international concern. The designation means that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and may push member countries to invest more funding in vaccines, treatments and other resources for curbing the disease.
Many of these critical tools are still not widely available, even in the United States. Public health messages around individual risk and access to care have not always been clear; the clinics doing testing and the health department officials who follow up with patients often lack coordination; vaccine distribution has lagged; and treatment options remain obscure.
To make things more complicated, monkeypox symptoms may look different in some cases. People who get sick do not always have the traditional fever, aches and body-wide rashes. Many patients have developed only a few pustules, primarily in the genital area. And according to health officials, the disease is primarily spreading in networks of men who have sex with men.