New monkeypox cases down 50%: 5 updates

The number of new monkeypox cases in the U.S. are down nearly 50 percent since early August, according to federal health officials. 

CDC data shows the nation's seven-day average for new cases peaked on Aug. 10, with 461 cases. As of Sept. 14, that figure was 170. 

"We approach this news with cautious optimism," Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said during a Sept. 15 press briefing, adding that some areas of the U.S. are still seeing growth. "We continue to closely monitor data on this outbreak, those at risk, and how prevention measures are being used." 

More than 23,000 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Sept. 16. 

Four more updates: 

1. The CDC has launched a vaccine equity program to widen access among Black and Hispanic/Latino populations. The Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program allocates about 50,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine for populations more likely to face access barriers. The agency is now accepting applications from local health departments and other organizations for projects that "demonstrate new, innovative ways to reach populations that are most affected by monkeypox." 

2. Tpoxx should be prescribed only to people at high risk of severe disease, the CDC said in updated guidance Sept. 15. The agency's guidance came a day after the FDA said virus mutations can render the drug useless. "Tpoxx has a low barrier to viral resistance," the FDA said. "This means small changes to [monkeypox's viral] protein could have a large impact on the antiviral activity of Tpoxx." 

3. Healthcare workers' risk of contracting monkeypox after exposure is low, a new CDC report found. The report followed 313 healthcare workers in Colorado who were exposed to patients with monkeypox. The workers' use of recommended personal protective equipment and postexposure vaccination uptake was low, researchers said. After 21 days, none of the exposed healthcare workers contracted monkeypox. 

4. The White House has requested $4.5 billion in monkeypox response funding, The Hill reported Sept. 18. The funds would support access to vaccinations, testing, treatment and operational support, and global response efforts. The request is part of an upcoming short-term government funding bill to last through mid-December, Politico reports. 

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