Monkeypox cases have doubled in New York City over the past week, according to local health authorities.
A week ago, only a few dozen cases had been detected in the five boroughs, but the Health Department wrote on Twitter Tuesday that it has confirmed at least 111 people infected with the virus, which is known to cause blisters, fever and other symptoms. That’s up from 87 known cases this past Friday.
“While anyone can get monkeypox, current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” the department tweeted.
The city faced backlash last month after a clinic that was supposed to administer monkeypox vaccine ran out of doses within a few days.
The Department of Health vowed Tuesday to get more doses available in short order.
“We’re expecting to receive more doses of the monkeypox vaccine in coming days and will make appointments available soon,” the department wrote on Twitter, along with a link to a web portal where New Yorkers can sign up to get a shot.
Monkeypox is not a new virus, as sporadic outbreaks have been reported for decades, first and foremost in Africa.
The current outbreak is unusual in that it has spread across the world. It has also added to a sense of unease already instilled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, public health experts have stressed that monkeypox is not nearly as infectious as COVID-19. They’ve also noted that vaccines against monkeypox are already available, and the federal government is expected to make hundreds of thousands of doses available in coming weeks.
It’s unclear why the current outbreak is predominantly impacting gay and bisexual men. The virus, which was named monkeypox because it was first detected in laboratory monkeys decades ago, is known to be transmissible via body fluids and direct contact with the blister-like rashes patients often develop.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging health care providers to be on the lookout for patients experiencing symptoms emblematic of monkeypox. Anyone suffering such symptoms are urged to self-isolate for at least five days.