Monkeypox virus declines on LI and nationwide, experts say

The monkeypox outbreak, which rocked communities over the summer and created a new public health crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is beginning to decline locally and nationally amid a campaign immunization and education, medical officials said last week.

While Long Island continues to account for the largest percentage of monkeypox cases in the state, outside of New York, the trends appear to be pointing in the right direction, health officials said.

Statewide cases have fallen since Aug. 25 after peaking in early July, according to state Health Department data.

Nassau County and Suffolk County health officials have also reported a drop in the number of new cases in recent weeks – mirroring a trend in New York, the epicenter of the crisis.

“The monkeypox epidemic has not gone away,” said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of public health and epidemiology for Northwell Health. “But I think it’s going down. The numbers have been falling nationally and locally over the past few weeks. And the trend seems to be real. So clearly I think things are improving.”

Monkeypox is a rare but highly contagious viral infection that is spread through intimate contact, often skin to skin. While anyone can catch monkeypox, the overwhelming percentage of those who have contracted the virus in the current outbreak are men who have sex with men, experts have said.

Since the outbreak began in early summer, Suffolk has reported 64 cases of monkeypox – second among suburban counties behind Westchester with 84 – while Nassau has reported another 49 cases, according to Department of Health data. state of health. Together, Long Island accounts for more than 39% of all cases in the state outside of the city, the data shows.

“The increase in cases has slowed significantly, as has demand for the monkeypox vaccine, indicating that community members are heeding public health warnings and taking appropriate action to protect themselves from the virus,” said said Dr Gregson Pigott, Suffolk’s Health Commissioner.

New York City has reported 3,339 total cases, about 1,000 fewer than the state of California as a whole, but those numbers have dropped since late July, the data shows.

On July 25, the city reported 95 new monkeypox cases for the day. But so far in September, there hasn’t been a day the city has recorded more than 20 new cases as the seven-day average has fallen since August 1, according to the New York Department of Health. .

Nationwide, where nearly 22,000 cases have been reported, monkeypox incidents have been declining since late August, but not at the same rate as in New York state, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .

Dr Sharon Nachman, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, said a high profile public education campaign was targeting men who have sex with multiple or anonymous male sex partners, as well as increased access to monkeypox vaccine and testing. , likely contributed to the decline.

But she said it was too early to declare victory.

“The number of new cases has gone down,” Nachman said. “But, like others, I share concerns about this little snapshot of time because we recently had a holiday weekend and are concerned about incubation time, so we are not out of the woods yet. We will clearly need to track new cases over the next few weeks.”

As of Friday, the Nassau Department of Health had received 3,560 vials of monkeypox vaccine and administered 2,840 doses, according to county spokesman Chris Boyle. Suffolk received 9,220 vials and administered 7,402 doses in total, county spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said.

In recent weeks, vaccination centers have begun administering divided doses of the rare monkeypox vaccine intradermally or by injection into the skin, rather than subcutaneously under the skin, officials said. Splitting is usually done by dividing each dose into five parts, resulting in five times the intake.

LGBT Network President David Kilmnick said his Hauppauge-based organization has conducted ongoing outreach in person and via social media, providing advice on treating monkeypox and ways to reduce its spread.

“The ultimate goal should be to get ahead and we can’t slow down our efforts,” he said. “Increasingly it feels like a marathon, not a sprint in the need to do the hard and sustained work to stop the spread of monkeypox.”

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