While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised concerns about a potential resurgence of mpox cases this summer, Southern Nevada remains relatively unscathed, with only two reported cases this year, the most recent being in February, according to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).
While the region has not experienced recent cases, health officials urged vigilance, as reports of cases in other U.S. cities suggested a risk of virus resurgence. Surveillance activities continue, and the SNHD has recommended vaccination for those at higher risk of exposure, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
The global mpox outbreak, formerly known as monkeypox, reached its peak in August 2022, with nearly 460 daily cases nationwide, as reported by the CDC. Last August, the Las Vegas area experienced its highest month of cases, totaling 117 out of 295 cases reported since June 2022 when the virus was initially identified in the region.
Mpox is transmitted through person-to-person contact or by touching contaminated objects. Its symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and a painful rash that can spread across the body. Although the virus disproportionately affected gay and bisexual men, transgender individuals, and other men who have sex with men, it can infect individuals outside of these groups as well.
While cases have steadily declined since August 2022, the CDC warned that the outbreak is not over and community transmission is ongoing. A recent cluster in the Chicago area, some involving vaccinated individuals, prompted the CDC to issue an alert about the potential risk of new mpox cases. The cause of the cluster is yet to be determined, but hypotheses include a high number of sexual exposures among a network of vaccinated persons, decreased vaccine effectiveness due to waning immunity, or vaccine administration errors.
Since June 21, approximately 30,505 mpox cases have been reported in the United States, resulting in 43 deaths. The majority of cases continue to affect LGBTQ+ men, with Latino and Black communities experiencing the highest impact.
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As summer approaches and people engage in outdoor activities with reduced clothing, the risk of contact with infected individuals or items increases, raising concerns about a potential resurgence. Vaccination remains a highly effective method to prevent severe mpox infections.
Mona Lisa Paulo, Director of Clinic and HIV Services at The LGBTA Center of Southern Nevada, highlighted the importance of vaccination in mitigating the severity of the disease and building community immunity. While breakthrough cases have occurred among vaccinated individuals, the vaccine remains a crucial tool in reducing the impact of mpox.