'We are one of the epicenters': Bay Area responds as monkeypox becomes global emergency

Bay Area health officials have responded to the World Health Organization declaring monkeypox a global health emergency. This is the WHO’s highest level of alert.

This declaration should lead to a more coordinated response internationally and could also help secure funding for treatment and testing.

"It’s a huge issue in the Bay Area. We are one of the epicenters in the world actually," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong an infectious disease expert at UCSF. 

He said the disease is difficult to control because symptoms are subtle in the beginning. They can include headache and fevers, similar to the flu or COVID symptoms.

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There are more than 66-thousand cases across 75 countries and nearly 3-thousand cases in the United States.

Chin-Hong said, "This is the 7th global health emergency since 2007. So it really shows how many public health issues are coming up and how we need to get robust funding to prevent this these things from happening in the first place."

Clinics have been holding vaccine drives. The vaccine is two shots but because of lack of supply, the San Francisco Department of Public Health is prioritizing first doses. Officials say they requested 35-thousand doses and only 77-hundred have arrived.

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The department released a statement that says, "The acknowledgement of World Health Organization that monkeypox is a global emergency only re-enforces that the way to address this health emergency is to provide the resources necessary to local governments, especially cities such as San Francisco that are experiencing an increase in cases."