Monkeypox adds to concerns but not a showstopper

This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue), cultured in the laboratory that was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Md. The World Health Organization recently declared the expanding monkeypox outbreak a global emergency. It is WHO’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal. (NIAID via AP)

By Worthington Moore

NABJ Monitor

As conference goers make their way to Las Vegas for the first in-person convention in three years, health concerns are at the top of everyone’s list. 

In addition to COVID-19, the growing trend of monkeypox has some attendees like Angel Idowu worried. The Biden administration declared the virus a public health emergency Thursday. 

 “I’m nervous about getting it during the convention to be honest,” said Idowu.

Monkeypox vaccines are in high demand by the general public. Rafael Carranza, an NAHJ mentor, made it a priority to get his shot.

“I got the vaccine because I fall into one of the high risk categories as determined by public health authorities,” said Carranza. “As soon as I had that opportunity in my city I jumped on [it]”. 

Some of the high risk groups include gay or bisexual men who are having intimate interactions with others according to former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

“Right now, we know that the majority of cases of monkey pox, over 95%, are being spread in men who have sex with men. We don’t know if this is due to direct transmission via sexual route,” said Adams. 

Overall, the bottom line for health officials like Adams is for attendees to be cautious and aware of the disease but not fearful.

“We want people to be aware, but not overly panicked about this current outbreak,” he said.

For those attending the NABJ-NAHJ conference like Carranza, that’s great news to hear. 

“The NAHJ conferences have always been a great opportunity to see people that you work with that you[‘ve] known for a long time and to be able to spend time with them,” he said. “The fact that it’s a joint conference with NABJ makes it even more exciting.”

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