Tag Archives: monkeypox

The threat of mpox returns:
How reporters should cover the disease

mpox examples

Image by CDC/NHS England High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network

A cluster of new mpox cases in Chicago has alarmed public health officials and prompted warnings of a potential outbreak this summer.

During Pride Month, covering the threat of mpox — formerly called “monkeypox” — may be especially important in communities where vaccination rates are low among those at highest risk of infection. According to the CDC, people who are primarily at risk for infection are gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Communities with the lowest vaccination rates include Jacksonville, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., and Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Webinar: A White House Q&A on Monkeypox

Demetre Daskalakis, M.D., M.P.H.

The number of new monkeypox cases has declined since this summer, but many questions remain about symptoms, transmission, vaccines, treatments and whether the virus that causes the disease can mutate.

For health journalists covering the evolving monkeypox story, AHCJ’s webinar on Sept. 22 at noon EST provides a great opportunity to get answers to some of your questions by asking White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator Demetre Daskalakis, M.D, M.P.H.

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Monkeypox experts to follow on social media

The monkeypox story has been evolving quickly this year, moving from a pathogen that wasn’t on the radar for most people to a global outbreak that led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency on July 23.

To boost your reporting on this topic, use social media and create a Twitter list to help focus your coverage. Use the platform to contact experts for comment, a lesson I learned from covering COVID-19. 

In March 2020, I created a Twitter list of COVID-19 experts to help me cut through the clutter of voices on social media and shared it with AHCJ members. At that time (and frankly, this continues to be the case), there were many people on Twitter without training in infectious diseases, virology and immunology opining on what was happening. (See Tara Haelle’s post on how important it is to seek out people who specialize in infectious diseases, not just any physician)

Over the past two and a half years, I have added and removed names from the list depending upon the person’s social media presence. Overall, I have found it a helpful lens for understanding what is going on as the pandemic has evolved.

This week, I created another Twitter list for covering monkeypox. There is a crossover of experts between the COVID-19 and monkeypox list, as the world of trusted infectious disease experts who are also helpful on social media isn’t huge. I also may have missed people that should be on the list, so please send a note (Email me at bara@healthjournalism.org) if I have missed someone. 

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The latest on monkeypox: rates, preparedness

On June 30, Texas’s department of health reported multiple cases of monkeypox in people who hadn’t traveled outside the United States, suggesting the outbreak of the disease is expanding to different parts of the country.

So how worried should Americans be? Most are currently at low risk for the disease, but that could change, Celine Grounder, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine told CBS News on June 28.

Monkeypox is spreading predominantly among men who have sex with men, but it could spread to other communities, Dr. Grounder said. The World Health Organization said on June 25, that monkeypox wasn’t a public health emergency of international concern, but the WHO said that may change if more cases emerge globally in the coming weeks.

As of June 30, the CDC said there have been 396 confirmed cases in the U.S. in 30 states and the District of Columbia. There were 4,177 cases reported in Europe, with the majority of cases reported in the past two months.

Monkeypox is caused by an orthopoxvirus and is a cousin of smallpox. Until recently, monkeypox has rarely been detected outside of west and central Africa. Though in most cases it is mild, the disease can be serious and even deadly for the immunocompromised, pregnant women and children. U.S. health officials have stepped up calls to clinicians and the public to know what the signs and symptoms are of the disease. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that can look like blisters. Transmission occurs through direct contact with the rash or bodily fluids like saliva and prolonged face-to-face contact through respiratory droplets.

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Increasing infectious disease outbreaks highlight need for public health reporting

Deadly infectious disease outbreaks are occurring more often around the world.

Influenza virus circulated in the southern hemisphere and then spread to the U.S., killing about 80,000 people during this past flu season – the most in decades. Monkeypox, a rare disease outside of Africa, was found in three people in the United Kingdom for the first time. Ebola has broken out once again in Africa.

HuffPost’s Lauren Weber says this trend is the reason why infectious diseases is a mainstay of her beat as a public health reporter and why she has been able to cover the Ebola outbreak from Washington, D.C. Continue reading