August 9, 2022
In response to the increasing number of patients who have contracted monkeypox, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on August 4 declared the virus a public health emergency (PHE).
“Ending the monkeypox outbreak is a critical priority for the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Secretary Becerra. “With [the] declaration, we can further strengthen and accelerate our response.”
In July, Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, MSc, PhD, director of the World Health Organization, said that global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.
In addition to signaling the urgent need for addressing and ending the monkeypox outbreak, which has infected more than 7,000 individuals in the US, the PHE designation has important data-sharing implications for the federal government. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services can now collect testing and hospitalization data, and the declaration may provide justification for regional health jurisdictions that are not yet doing so to share vaccination data. HHS also announced that it will increase delivery of vaccines throughout the US and is working with the Food and Drug Administration to better use existing doses, including stretching out the vaccine supply by injecting one-fifth of the current dose into the skin instead of a full dose into underlying fat. The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for these intradermal injections on August 9.
Review of Clinical Information Relevant to Surgeons
As monkeypox cases spread, it is likely that surgeons will begin seeing patients with the illness in their practices and should be prepared to understand its presentation and physiologic basis. The Council of Medical Specialty Societies recently hosted a presentation by John T. Brooke, MD, chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Monkeypox Response, which summarized what clinicians need to know about monkeypox. View the presentation slides, including images that serve as useful reference material for surgeons.
As a reminder, the CDC is requesting that healthcare workers document and report on monkeypox patients’ pain experiences to inform future pain management strategies. In addition, the CDC monkeypox landing page provides information on signs, symptoms, and vaccination, as well as important resources that outline ways to reduce stigma for patients.