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Why is there a dramatic drop in monkeypox incidences in the US?

After several weeks of increasing cases, the United States monkeypox epidemic appears to be slowing down.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 7-day average case was 197 as of Sept. 21.

The data show that this is a 50% decrease from the 7-day rolling average (394) recorded one month ago.

Similar situations are being observed in other cities throughout the U.S. According to data from New York’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, the incidence of infection in New York City has dropped by 85.7% from 35 to five infections over a single month.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health data shows that the average seven-day Los Angeles has dropped by 80.5%, from 36 to 7.

Professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. William Schaffner said there are two main reasons monkeypox cases are declining.

One reason is that at-risk individuals have changed their behavior.

Although the outbreak is mainly concentrated in men who have sex with other men, which includes those who identify as gay or bisexual and transgender, health officials say that anyone can be infected if they come into direct contact with infected patients.

Schaffner stated that those at high risk have received a lot of information on how to reduce their risks and have followed the advice of doctors.

He said that there has been a tremendous amount of public education about health that’s been sent out and that it was particularly targeted at the MSM community as well as the LBGTQ community which have been most affected. “So, you have a target group, they’ve been flooded with information about monkeypox and what you can do as an individual to prevent becoming infected.”

Schaffner said, “And so, a lot of communication I think has been successful.” Here’s the inferential part: I believe people may have changed some of their behavior to lower their risk.

Joint surveys by Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, and the CDC found that about half of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex together with men decreased their number of sexual partners, and one-time anonymous partners, as well as reduced their use of dating apps.

Schaffner stated that vaccinations are the second reason behind the decline.

According to CDC data, more than 684,000 JYNNEOS vaccination doses had been distributed in the U.S. as of Sept. 20. The number of second doses given was higher than the number received in the first doses as people return to full protection, CDC data shows.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new strategy last month to inject the vaccine intradermally. This allows for five doses of vaccine per vial, instead of one single dose.

Schaffner stated that data showed that the vaccine would be equally effective and that it appears to be working. “[There has been] acceptance of a vaccine by the target population, and we can get it out, make available it easily without stigma.”

Schaffner stated that the fight isn’t over and that there must be a continued effort by public health officials and clinicians to spread information about the seriousness and prevention of monkeypox.

He said, “This will require continued attention for some time.” Amazingly, things seem to be declining and plateauing, but we must keep an eye on where this disease is and continue our communications and public health efforts.

It’s not “mission accomplished.” Schaffner said that we must be careful and make use of the vaccine.

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