Mpox Rates Are Nearly Double What They Were at This Time Last Year, CDC Says

Mpox is once again on the rise in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control recording nearly twice as many cases this year compared to the same time last year.

According to weekly data from the CDC, as of the week of March 23, there have been 576 recorded cases of mpox this year. Last year at this time, the CDC had recorded 298 cases. The majority of the cases are concentrated in the Middle Atlantic (185) and South Atlantic (119) regions, with New York City alone accounting for 113 cases.

Despite this uptick, transmission rates are still far below those of 2022, per CNN. Mpox, which is endemic to central and West Africa, first appeared in the U.S. in May of that year, and case rates peaked in August 2022, according to a study by the CDC. However, the U.S. public health emergency declaration for mpox ended in January 2023, meaning that there are fewer federal resources available for managing a response, per CNN.

Experts are encouraging groups who are particularly at risk to get vaccinated. Although anyone can get mpox, men who have sex with men and their sexual networks have been disproportionately affected, particularly Black and Latino men. Yet according to the CDC, as of January 10, 2024 (when they stopped tracking the vaccination data) only 23% of the population at risk has been fully vaccinated against mpox since the two-dose vaccine was given emergency authorization in August 2022. (Racial disparities persist when it comes to vaccine access as well.)

Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told CNN that mpox “has the potential to become a fairly prevalent infectious disease, but the advantage with mpox is, we have a vaccine that’s effective.”

“We don’t have that for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV,” Plescia told the outlet. “We’ve had fairly good participation in the vaccination push, but we’re not anywhere close to getting most of the at-risk population vaccinated. Until that happens, we’re going to see outbreaks and upticks in cases in various places.”

The vaccine is given in two doses, 28 days apart, and people are not considered fully vaccinated unless they have received both doses, according to the CDC. However, if you miss the four-week window, experts told CNN that you can get the second vaccine without having to start over.

In December, the CDC issued a warning about a new, more infectious strain of mpox that emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, urging travelers to “practice enhanced precautions.” However, the strain has yet to be detected in the U.S., per CNN.

Get the best of what’s queer. Sign up for Them’s weekly newsletter here.