US Declares Monkeypox Outbreak A Public Health Emergency
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Aug. 4, 2022.
The announcement means the federal government can allocate more resources to combat the spread of the disease.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced the state’s first case in New Haven County on July 5.
CDC data shows 48 cases have been reported in Connecticut, as of August 8, with more than 8,900 cases reported in the U.S.
Symptoms and Spreading
The monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, with similar, but milder symptoms.
CDC officials said an individual with the virus may show flu-like symptoms with an accompanying rash one to four days later.
The disease can be spread through direct contact with the infectious rash or bodily fluids.
Touching items, such as clothing, that previously touched the infected area is another way monkeypox spreads.
People can also get monkeypox from infected animals, according to the CDC. This occurs if an infected animal scratches or bites a person or if an individual eats meat or uses products from an infected animal.
An infected individual can spread the disease from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
Employers should be mindful of their obligation to maintain a safe workplace.
This is complicated by the fact that the disease can last two to four weeks when the employee is infectious, a time frame much longer than COVID-19.
In these instances, employers should inform employees of their possible Family Medical Leave Act eligibility and whether their situation would be considered a serious health condition.
The CDC has not made any allowances for employers to ask if an employee is experiencing symptoms of monkeypox.
Employers can consider sharing information with employees about the nature of the disease and infectious disease protocols.
Employers can also inform employees of available vaccines, and restrict employees who are infected to come to work until they are cleared by their healthcare provider.
CT DPH has partnered with 15 community-based clinics to expand the availability of the vaccine.
The JYNNEOS vaccine is licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent the monkeypox infection in people aged 18 years and older.
It can be effective in protecting people against the monkeypox illness when properly administered before or after a recent exposure, according to officials with CT DPH.
Vaccine eligibility and clinic locations are available on the CT DPH website.
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