With over 2,600 cases in 47 countries, over 100 in the U.S. and New York City’s outbreak expanding fast, the news media is finally taking monkeypox seriously.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization will convene a panel of experts to decide whether to declare the epidemic a PHEIC: a “public health emergency of international concern.”
The disease is not spreading as fast as a respiratory virus like Covid can, but for a sexually transmitted pathogen, it’s a jackrabbit. It was only one month ago, on May 16, that Spain, Portugal and Britain had a mere handful of cases; now it’s an incipient pandemic.
But when public health officials realized that most victims were gay males, they got a case of the vapors. For fear of stigma, they began discussing the outbreak in cautious, oblique, academic ways, as in this recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine by the C.D.C.’s top experts on MSM sex.
Actually, at the moment it looks as if only some limited subgroups of gay men are at the highest risk. If officials were more open about approaching those subgroups directly and more aggressive about vaccinating them immediately, they might be able to corral this epidemic before it’s out of control.