Another 42 men in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with monkeypox in the past week, the state said Thursday, as federal officials declared the fast-spreading virus a public health emergency.
The new cases were diagnosed between July 28 and Wednesday and bring the number of infections in the state to 157 since the first was announced on May 18, according to a weekly outbreak update from the Department of Public Health.
State and local health officials are working with patients and their health care providers to identify anyone who may have had contact with the 42 men while they were infectious, according to the release.
Also Thursday, US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the federal public health emergency, less than two weeks after the World Health Organization declared monkeypox an “emergency.” of public health of international interest. The organization currently uses that designation only for two other diseases: polio and COVID-19.
The federal emergency declaration will allow health agencies to access federal funds and may speed the development of diagnoses or treatments.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 6,617 cases of the monkeypox virus nationwide amid this year’s global outbreak, which caused 26,864 cases worldwide, according to data from the CDC.
Most patients recover from the virus in two to four weeks, according to the statement. Anyone with the virus is advised to isolate themselves and avoid contact with others until they are no longer infectious.
The monkeypox vaccine is now available at 14 sites across the state, and 5,875 doses of the vaccine had been administered as of Wednesday, officials said.
Availability of the vaccine remains extremely limited both nationally and locally, and is only accessible in Massachusetts to people who live or work in the state and meet CDC eligibility requirements, officials said. Priority is given to people at highest risk of exposure to a person with monkeypox.
Anyone who thinks they qualify for a vaccine can contact their health care providers for an evaluation to make sure they meet the eligibility requirements.
The initial cases of monkeypox, related to the smallpox virus, were linked to international travel. Men who have sex with men now make up a large proportion of identified cases, although anyone exposed to someone with monkeypox is at risk, the statement said.
Material from Globe Wire Services was used in this report.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.