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AdventHealth epidemiologist weighs in on monkeypox risk

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While the World Health Organization did not declare monkeypox an emergency of international concern, local health care workers are taking care to monitor the disease closely.

Dr. Vincent Hsu, epidemiologist and executive director of infection prevention for
AdventHealth, recently told Newsweek that monkeypox can be a "serious disease for some."

"The fatality rate in Africa has historically ranged from 1% to 10%. It is likely the disease will cause additional severe disease and death if it begins to affect people with weakened immune systems," he told the publication. "Thus, if allowed to spread, this disease has potential to cause serious disease; the priority must be to stop transmission to others as soon as possible."

Hsu said monkeypox won't cause the number of infections or deaths related to COVID-19, but expressed concern that the window for containing the disease is narrow.

"It has already spread to over 40 countries and has the potential to cause severe disease and death if spread in certain populations such as those who are immunocompromised," he told Newsweek. "Other populations in which severe disease could occur include pregnant women, the very young and the elderly. It appears that we have not yet learned our lessons from COVID-19. We must act now, and act like this is a public health emergency. Otherwise, it will be too late."

He said early symptoms of the disease are often non-specific such as headache and fever until the characteristic rash appears later.

The key, he told Newsweek, is proper public health messaging about prevention such as vaccines and awareness in communities about how the virus spreads so that it can be detected and controlled as early as possible.

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