Health officials are closely monitoring a severe mpox outbreak overseas and are preparing for if - or when - the virus makes it to New York.

Mpox, formerly monkeypox, is a virus that can cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a painful rash that looks like pimples or blisters. It is spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected individual, such as touching clothing or towels used by someone with mpox.

Monkey Pox Lesions
(Photo Courtesy of CDC/Getty Images)
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While most people recover from mpox, the virus can make a person extremely ill.

The United States was part of a multi-country outbreak in 2022, which resulted in the government declaring a Public Health Emergency. That year, nearly 30,400 people contracted the virus, resulting in 42 deaths.

New York reported the second-highest number of cases during the outbreak, but there were no reported deaths.

Although coverage about the mpox virus has decreased in recent years, we may see a resurgence of headlines in the coming weeks as cases tick upwards worldwide.

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New York has been reporting a "substantial increase" in cases since January. In New York City alone, cases went from roughly 20 per month in 2023 to 51 cases in the first month of the new year.

Since last October, there has been 256 reported cases of mpox. The majority of the infected, at 73%, were either not vaccinated or received one dose of the vaccine. Ten people wound up in the hospital, but all survived.

Dr. Celia Quinn, MPH Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Disease Control, said 93% of the cases concerned men who have sex with men. Additionally, most mpox cases involved Black of Hispanic individuals.

Locally, 2 infections have been reported in Oneida County and 9 in Onondaga County, according to the Department of Health.

While this current increase of cases is concerning to health officials, there's a different strain that's behind a major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has officials here on alert.

Monkey Pox Lesions
Getty Images
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The variant currently circulating overseas is called Clade I, while the virus in the United States is called Clade II. The New York Department of Health said the Clade I variant is more transmissible and causes more serious infections.

This outbreak is Congo's biggest in history, resulting in 4,500 new infections and nearly 300 deaths.

While there is no evidence of Clade I circulating in New York at this time, those in the health industry are asked to be on high alert.

It is possible that Clade I could be introduced into the U.S. by a traveler to the Democratic Republic of the Congo or other endemic countries, or with epidemiological links to those regions.

In Central New York, health officials are also on standby.

That said, if you or someone you know is planning to either travel to the Republic of Congo or are expecting someone from the area to visit, be aware of the signs and symptoms of a possible mpox infection.

Monkeypox Vaccination Site Opens In West Hollywood, CA
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To prevent a similar outbreak in the States, vaccination efforts are rolling out to reach those who have a potential risk of exposure, including those with compromised immune systems. Those individuals should obtain two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine in order to protect themselves from severe infection.

Those interested in obtaining the vaccine can do so by visiting the CDC's website, which list all vaccinations locations nearest you.

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Below are individuals wanted by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's (DOCCS) Office of Special Investigations who have been designated as its Most Wanted Fugitives. They should be considered armed and dangerous. This list is current as of 5/01/2024:

NEVER attempt to apprehend a fugitive yourself. If you have information on the location of any of these fugitives, you can contact OSI 24 hours a day / 7 days a week to report it. All leads and tips are treated as confidential information.

If an immediate response is necessary, such as you see the wanted person at a location, please call “911” and report it to the police.

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And each deserves to be remembered......

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