Mpox cases are rising in Chicago area ahead of summer

Thu. May 18, 2023 2:33 PM by News Staff

photo credit // cdc

IDPH urges mpox vaccinations ahead of festival and Pride season

At least 24 newly-confirmed cases of mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) are being investigated in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health made the announcement Thursday noting an additional two probable cases. 

“We are seeing an increase in mpox cases over the past month – a reminder that the threat of mpox is not over,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. 

Health officials urged those at-risk for mpox exposure to take precautions and to get vaccinated, if they are not already, ahead of the spring and summer festival and Pride season.

“We are asking Illinoisans at-risk for mpox to take precautions to reduce their exposure and get vaccinated – either for the first time or to complete the two-dose course," said Vohra. 

Since the outbreak in 2022, mpox has primarily been transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, almost exclusively associated with sexual contact.

Even though mpox infections have been primarily reported among gay, bisexual, nonbinary, and transgender people, any person - regardless of sexual orientation - may be at-risk for contracting and spreading mpox.

Howard Brown Health, the most recognizable healthcare provider to the Chicago LGBTQ community, issued a similar warning earlier this month.

In a news release, Howard Brown Health encouraged sexually active community members to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

“We urge sexually active members of our community to receive the mpox vaccine. For example, unvaccinated people planning to attend International Mr. Leather at the end of May should receive their first dose of the mpox vaccination as soon as possible,” said Dr. Patrick Gibbons, Chief Medical Director at Howard Brown Health.

Anyone at risk for mpox who hasn't been vaccinated can schedule a vaccination appointment at one of Howard Brown's nine medical clinics.

Mpox presents as a flu-like infection, often accompanied by lesions, and spreads through close personal contact with the infected lesions, skin blisters, body fluids or respiratory secretions of someone infected.

Anyone experiencing any symptoms indicative of mpox, such as new bumps, blisters, or rash in the face, trunk, hands, or back, should contact Howard Brown Health at 773-388-1600 to arrange prompt testing.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the better protected the LGBTQ+ community will be from another outbreak of monkeypox this year," said Gibbons.