Monkeypox detected in 13 N.J. counties as U.S. declares national health emergency

Monkeypox detected in 13 N.J. counties as U.S. declares national health emergency

New Jersey has had at least 214 reported cases of monkeypox in 13 counties, officials with the state Department of Health said Friday.

The federal government declared the monkeypox outbreak a national public health emergency Thursday after more than 7,100 Americans reported contracting the virus. The designation will allow the Biden administration to use federal money and other resources to combat the virus, which causes pimple-like bumps, fever, fatigue and other symptoms in people who are infected.

Infections have been on the rise in New Jersey, from 45 total cases two weeks ago to 214 total cases as of Friday. That’s a 375% increase.

Cases have been diagnosed in 13 counties: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union.

Hudson County reported the most cases with 67 as of Friday, followed by Essex County with 45 cases and Bergen County with 24 cases, state officials said.

Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Salem, Sussex and Warren counties have not reported a positive case, health department data shows.

In counties with fewer than five cases, the state has not released the specific number of cases to protect patient privacy, officials said.

Cases have also increased dramatically across the country. In the two-week period from July 20 through Wednesday, reported cases in the US nearly tripled, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Jerseyans should remain cautious but take the declaration of a national public health emergency as a good sign, said Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist and professor at Montclair State University.

Public health emergencies allow the government to more easily allocate resources to respond to outbreaks, which is a good thing, Silvera said. It could also help the public take things more seriously, she said.

“Hopefully it will also indicate to people who may have thought this is a disease for other people in other places, that they may be affected by it,” Silvera said.

Residents should continue to practice common illness prevention tactics, including washing their hands and not going out if they feel sick. While not an airborne virus, monkeypox can be spread through droplets and saliva, so it’s a good idea to wear a mask if you think you might have been exposed to the virus, Silvera said.

Those in high-risk groups should be vaccinated against monkeypox, the health department says. High-risk groups include men who have sex with men and anyone who has had contact with someone who has tested positive or attended an event where there was a known case of monkeypox.

But state officials acknowledge that it has been difficult for some residents to locate a vaccine in New Jersey.

“Vaccine availability has been limited,” Nancy Kearney, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said in a statement. “Demand is high and appointments fill up quickly.”

As of Monday, the state had received about 5,500 doses, he said. An additional 14,520 doses are expected in the coming weeks, including a shipment of 5,900 due this week, she said.

There are currently five monkeypox vaccination sites in New Jersey:

  • Hyacinth AIDS Foundation/ Project Living Out Loud! (Jersey City): 201-706-3480
  • The Prevention Resource Network, a program of the Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey (Asbury Park): 732-502-5100
  • North Jersey Community Research Initiative (Newark): 973-483-3444
  • Cooper University Hospital, 300 Broadway (Camden): at the intersection of Broadway and MLK Boulevard. Entrance from MLK Boulevard. Follow the signs; do not drive to the parking lot. By Appointment Only: Call 856-968-7100, Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 8 pm and Friday 7 am to 5 pm, or go online anytime through MyCooper by clicking here.
  • Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, Annex 2 (white tent structure), 230 East Ridgewood Ave. (Paramus) Appointment online only by clicking here

Can’t see the map below? Click here. (Note: The numbers on the national map and graph below may not match the total number of cases on the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health websites because the data is delayed by several days. Data will be updated.) check the date at the top of the map below to see when it was last updated).

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Katie Kausch can be contacted at kkausch@njadvancemedia.com. matte bow can be reached marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MateoArco.

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