Why monkeypox cases are still rising at such an alarming rate

The U.S. had tools to contain this virus, which is far less contagious than COVID-19. So what went wrong?

Unlike COVID-19, the monkeypox virus requires intimate, often skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual’s rashes, scabs, bodily fluids, or contaminated linens to spread. So with at least some known transmission routes, available diagnostic tests, and two vaccines on offer, monkeypox should have been easy to manage in the United States.

And yet cases—most among men who have sex with other men—are still rising at such an alarming rate that the federal government has now declared monkeypox a public health emergency, leaving many people baffled about what went wrong.

Since May more than 80 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported nearly 28,000 cases, including about 7,500 in the U.S. All states except Montana and Wyoming have confirmed cases, but more than half have been recorded in New York, California, Illinois, Florida, and Texas.

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