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Vaccination Urgency and Infection Control: Piercing Analysis of Rising Mpox Cases and Healthcare-Associated Infections

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health) has issued a stark alert concerning a significant increase in Mpox cases since October 2023, predominantly among individuals who have either been unvaccinated or have only received a single dose of vaccine. From early to midway 2023, the city reported an average of 2 to 20 cases of Mpox each month. However, the situation has escalated since October, with average monthly cases surging to 36 and with January reporting a peak of 51 cases. Out of the 256 cases reported during this period, almost three-quarters (73%) of the affected individuals were either unvaccinated or did not receive a complete vaccine course. Black and Hispanic men from 25 to 44 age bracket accounted for the majority of these cases, 94% of which involved men who have sex with men. Although most cases were mild, 10 instances led to hospitalization.

NYC Health is urging healthcare providers to remain diligent, promoting and offering vaccines to populations deemed at risk, chiefly those with immunocompromising conditions like HIV. Providers are encouraged to point these individuals to vaccination sites readily. The health department has noted the commercial market transition of the Jynneos vaccine, shared that until early summer, there will be federally-funded supplies available at zero cost, and warned about the potential risk posed by the introduction of the clade 1 virus strain from Africa to the United States, a strain causing severe outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In contrast, a global outbreak is currently being facilitated primarily by the clade 2 strain, which comparatively yields milder symptoms. Healthcare providers are advised to be watchful for individuals displaying Mpox symptoms and having an epidemiological connection with the region.

On another front, newly published data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) casts a spotlight on the persistent challenges imposed by healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and antibiotic resistance on European hospitals. According to the ECDC’s recent point-prevalence survey (PPS), almost 4.3 million patients were estimated to have procured at least one HAI every year during 2022 and 2023 in the examined pool of 1,332 acute care hospitals across 28 European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries, and in Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. Of these HAIs, approximately 29.3% were respiratory tract infections, inclusive of pneumonia and healthcare-associated COVID-19. ICUs, hematology/bone marrow transplantations, and burns patients were flagged as having the highest risks. Additionally, the data revealed antimicrobial resistance in 32% of microorganisms from documented HAIs, marking a clear area of concern.

To combat these challenges, the survey remarked on the need for increased infection prevention and control staffing, introducing preventive measures for COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, broader antimicrobial stewardship, and implementing improved hand hygiene practices. Leaders in the health sector are called upon to recognize, navigate and address these pressing issues diligently.


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