98% of monkeypox cases among gay men, health officials warn spread possible for everyone

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:33 AM EDT

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Last week President Biden declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency.

According to the CDC, there are 8,934 cases in the U.S, and 45 of those in the Buckeye State.

While the group currently most impacted by the virus are gay men, health officials warn that it’s not limited to them.

“It’s in the population of men having sex with other men. But I caution us that it doesn’t mean that it can’t jump to other segments of our society, and I’m sure at some point it has,” said Toledo Lucas County Health Commissioner, Eric Zgodzinski.

“It’s just circulating in this group because of their social contacts,” said Dr. James Tita, a pulmonary critical care physician with Mercy Health. “What it requires is relatively prolonged close contact with somebody that has a rash.”

According to Dr. Tita, while roughly 98% of reported monkeypox cases are among men who have sex with other men, it can spread to others. “There have been cases reported in children, there have been cases reported in pregnant women. The reason the outbreak is a public health crisis is that potentially it can be transmitted outside of this population,” said Dr. Tita.

Health Commissioner Zgodzinski said just like COVID-19 it’s important for people to take steps to stay safe, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor if you think you may be infected.

“Make sure we’re washing our hands. Again we’re making sure we’re keeping ourselves healthy. We aren’t sharing towels, sharing bedding and things of that nature.”

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