Over the weekend the World Health Organization declared the rapid rise of monkeypox cases around the world as a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC. A PHEIC is a relatively rare declaration from WHO. The last time a PHEIC was issued was on February 12, 2020, when the global health body declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. Just one month later, WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic.
Right now there’s no suggestion that WHO is set to declare monkeypox a pandemic anytime soon, but its PHEIC designation is worrying—and two maps highlight why the WHO has so many concerns about monkeypox, a disease that, historically, has had a small geographic footprint.
Both maps come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The first map shows the spread of monkeypox across the United States as of July 22. That map reveals several alarming trends:
- Cases of monkeypox have been detected in 44 out of 50 states.
- The only states that do not have reported cases of monkeypox so far are Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Mississippi, Vermont, and Maine.
- As of July 22, there have been 2,891 cases of monkeypox in the U.S.
- The state with the highest number of reported cases is New York, with 900 cases.
- California comes in second with 356 cases.
- Florida (247), Illinois (238), and Georgia (211) round out the top five.
A second CDC map shows the spread of monkeypox around the world. This map’s data is current as of July 22—one day before the WHO declared monkeypox a PHEIC. It shows:
- There have been 16,836 global cases of monkeypox so far.
- The vast majority of those cases—16,593—originate from countries that have historically not had monkeypox cases before.
- In total, 74 countries have reported cases of monkeypox, 68 of which have not historically reported cases before.
- Spain has reported the most cases, at 3,125.
- The United States comes in second at 2,890 reported cases.
- Germany (2,268), the United Kingdom (2,208), and France (1,567) round out the top five.
As Reuters reports, after the WHO declared monkeypox a PHEIC, Raj Panjabi, the director of the White House pandemic preparedness office, stated that the WHO’s declaration was a “call to action for the world community to stop the spread of this virus” and that a “coordinated, international response is essential” to stop the continued spread of the virus.