Biden earlier this month appointed two top federal officials to coordinate his administration’s response to monkeypox, following declarations of emergencies by California, Illinois and New York.
First identified in monkeys in 1958, the disease has mild symptoms including fever, aches and pus-filled skin lesions, and people tend to recover from it within two to four weeks, according to the World Health Organization. It spreads through close physical contact and is rarely fatal.
Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Reuters on Thursday that it was critical to engage leaders from the gay community as part of efforts to rein in the outbreak, but cautioned against stigmatizing the lifestyle.
“Engagement of the community has always proven to be successful,” Fauci said.
Unlike when COVID-19 emerged, there are already vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, which was first documented in Africa in the 1970s.
The US government had distributed 156,000 monkeypox vaccine doses nationwide through mid-July. It has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine.
The first US case of monkeypox was confirmed in Massachusetts in May, followed by another case in California five days later.