The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that cases of mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) are on the rise in Chicago and suburban Cook County and is urging those at-risk for mpox exposure to take precautions and to get vaccinated, if they are not already, ahead of the spring and summer festival and Pride season. Since March, 24 mpox cases have been confirmed with an additional two probable cases. All cases were among symptomatic men, a majority of whom had received two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine.

“We are seeing an increase in mpox cases over the past month – a reminder that the threat of mpox is not over,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “We saw during last year’s outbreak that we have the tools to prevent mpox. We are asking Illinoisans at-risk for mpox to take precautions to reduce their exposure and get vaccinated – either for the first time or to complete the two-dose course. Mpox vaccine remains an important tool in stopping the spread of mpox and may help prevent serious illness.”

Since the outbreak in 2022, mpox has primarily been transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, almost exclusively associated with sexual contact. This is why it is important for those at risk to stay up to date on sexual health care. IDPH encourages individuals to be open with their medical providers about their practices and activities that could increase their risk of getting mpox, in order to get timely and appropriate testing, treatment and prevention services, including vaccines. Even though mpox infections have been primarily reported among gay, bisexual, nonbinary, and transgender people, any person – regardless of sexual orientation – may be at-risk for contracting and spreading mpox.

Vaccinations for those who could benefit from mpox vaccines continue to be one of the most important protective measures. Cases among vaccinated people can still occur, but people who have completed their two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine series typically experience less severe symptoms and hospitalizations than those who have not. The CDC found that mpox cases were 14 times higher were 14 times higher among unvaccinated males compared with those who received at least a first vaccine dose. No additional doses of vaccine are currently recommended for those previously infected by mpox or those who have already had two doses of mpox vaccine.

If you have symptoms of mpox, visit a trusted health care provider to get tested, even if you have been vaccinated.

Warmer months are full of events that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Prepare for this Pride season by staying healthy before, during and after these celebrations.

You may search for mpox vaccine locations HERE. For more information, visit the Chicago Department of Public Health’s mpox dashboard and IDPH’s mpox dashboard.

***Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Public Health***