ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Monkeypox cases have nearly doubled in just over a week here in New York, about 90 percent of those cases are in the city. Capitol Correspondent Amal Tlaige spoke with New York State’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Bassett in a one on one interview to discuss monkeypox vaccines and prevention. 

On Thursday, Commissioner Bassett issued monkeypox as an imminent threat to public health for two reasons: the limited supply of vaccinations and to bring more awareness to the public. “It’s presenting in a way that’s not classical… and it is occurring almost exclusively among men who report having sex with men, that’s gay, bisexual, trans, gender non-conforming. This is a community we’re very concerned about,” said Commissioner Bassett.

She says the Department of Health wants to support those most at risk with vaccines and prevention. New York currently has 66,000 doses of vaccines and are expecting to receive an additional 110,000. So exactly how transmissible is the disease? “The current outbreak is clearly being transmitted during the skin to skin contact that occurs during sex. It’s a little difficult to say how transmissible it is but certainly people can get it if they have sex with somebody who has it,” said Bassett.

Monkeypox can also be transmitted via kissing or coughing. The vaccine is a two-dose regimen, 28 days apart. While the majority of cases are not fatal, “It is extremely unpleasant. People who get monkeypox can get symptoms that really interfere with their daily function. Something around 10% of individuals may have to be hospitalized and often for pain management,” said Bassett.

The virus can also cause permanent scarring. Symptoms include pox marks on the face, lesions on the palms, pox on the mouth or genital area, and a raised rash that becomes a pustule. It’s at that point it can be tested for the virus and can be diagnosed by doctors. Commissioner Bassett also recognized the significance of prevention, “This would mean places where they would expect to find people that they may have sex with who you know are not their regular partner who they may not know that well, right now this is a setting in which you’re taking a chance.”