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HMPXV (Monkeypox) – What You Need to Know

With COVID infections still spreading more than two years into the pandemic, a new public health threat is on the rise. HMPXV, commonly known as monkeypox, has been in the news as cases began emerging in major cities across the world. A few months later, cases have appeared in dozens of countries and every U.S. state. Much like the early days of COVID, misinformation was rampant. People chuckled at the name, media outlets spread falsehoods about modes of transmission and which populations were susceptible, and demand for vaccines quickly overwhelmed public health facilities as supplies were severely limited. Meanwhile, with summer events and social activities returning to pre-pandemic levels, the virus continued to spread.

What is Monkeypox?
A relative of the smallpox virus, monkeypox is characterized by painful lesions that appear on a person’s skin. Although it is far less deadly than its long-eradicated cousin smallpox, suffice it to say that you don’t want to experience it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three primary modes of transmission: skin-to-skin contact with a person who has an active monkeypox infection, touching objects that have been handled by a person with an active monkeypox infection, and contact with respiratory droplets or airborne particles from a person with an active monkeypox infection. Although this virus has existed for centuries, outbreaks have historically been contained to small geographic areas. In 2022, that’s no longer the case.

How Can Digital Tools Help?
As we learned in the early days of the COVID pandemic, digital tools are a lifeline for disseminating accurate information quickly. Public health workers can use a variety of tactics, from email communications to text messages to livestreamed video content, to share the latest data with affected communities. Organizations can also use these tools to contact individuals who may have been exposed to a confirmed case, alert vulnerable populations to the availability of vaccines, or reaffirm best practices for safeguarding against the virus.

Key Takeaways
First, it cannot be overstated that anyone is susceptible and can be infected by monkeypox. The virus is not limited to any particular community, demographic, age group, or economic status. Early news reports about the virus contributed to unnecessary stigma, which hindered public health efforts to contain the spread of infections. That’s why communications from trusted sources, including public health workers, city staff, and prominent community members, are vital to connecting people with available resources and combatting misinformation. While having a crisis communications plan in place is critical to effective response, many communities aren’t able to prioritize this type of planning in advance. Even those that do have a thorough plan in place can be taken by surprise and need to remain agile and adaptable in the face of unexpected challenges.

Next Steps
Across the globe, recent public health crises, environmental disasters, and other emergency situations have fundamentally changed governments’ approach to crisis communications. To learn more about how communities just like yours have handled these stresses and made a positive impact in spite of extraordinarily challenging circumstances, you can view a free on-demand webinar featuring a panel of government communications experts. Or, if you’d like assistance with determining the digital tools that can help you prepare for current and future crises, reach out today. Regardless of which path you choose or which technologies you adopt, thank you for all you do to protect and inform your community.