As mpox cases climb across the nation, Michigan's numbers are rising, too

Mpox cases nearly double at start of 2024 versus same time last year
Posted at 3:31 PM, Apr 15, 2024

(WXYZ) — As mpox cases climb across the nation, Michigan's numbers are rising, too. Health officials are stressing the need for awareness to prevent a potential surge as summer travel and social events pick up.

Since February, there have been 16 probable or confirmed cases of mpox, formerly known as monkeypox. According to the latest update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, cases were reported in Detroit and Oakland, Kent, Genesee, Ottawa, and Macomb counties. All of the cases were men between the ages of 21 and 43—nine were African American. Of the 16 cases, three required hospitalization.

Mpox is a disease caused by infection with the mpox virus, and infected people can become very sick. Symptoms can include fever, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, sore throat, nasal congestion, and a cough. However, the most common symptom is a rash on the body. It can start off looking like pimples or blisters and develop into scabs before healing. It can be painful, itchy and leave behind debilitating scarring.

Michigan reported only four cases last year, compared to 394 the year before. Now, this year’s numbers are still "significantly lower" than our peak numbers back in 2022. However, it’s important to know that those cases primarily occurred during the summer and fall seasons. And that is why health officials are concerned and working to curb any potential spread.

As for prevention, we have a very effective vaccine. It requires two doses four weeks apart. And getting both are important because the majority of reported mpox cases are either in the unvaccinated or those who only got one dose.

Now, anyone can get mpox. However, not everyone needs to get vaccinated. Men who have sexual contact with other men are considered high risk. And individuals who are HIV-positive face a higher risk of severe outcomes, including death. So the CDC recommends the mpox vaccine for these groups, as well as gay, bisexual, transgender, and certain nonbinary people. Also, people who have had suspected exposure, work in settings where they might get exposed to mpox or have had sexual contact with a partner who was diagnosed with it can also get vaccinated.

Other ways to prevent mpox include avoiding close contact, such as kissing, hugging, and skin-to-skin contact with individuals presenting with rash symptoms resembling mpox. Also, anyone experiencing mpox symptoms or suspect exposure should contact their doctor. And, lastly, if feeling unwell, it is important to isolate at home and avoid contact with others to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.