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The Monkeypox Outbreak of 2003


I can’t believe I’m even typing the word Monkeypox. However, a CDC MMWR report, brought to my attention by @EWoodhouse7, was just too fascinating for me to ignore. 

Given the pattern that we’ve been stuck in over the last two years, it is absolutely incredible to think that so far, according to the CDC, there’s just been a single case of monkeypox identified in the US

Despite this, the media coverage of these cases persists and cable news/ social media seems to be enjoying the fruits of the conditioning we’ve all been subjected to for constant Covid-19 updates for 2+ years now. 

So just exactly how rare, how unprecedented is this outbreak? 

Does anyone remember the 71 cases in the Midwest, almost 20 years ago

“As of July 8, 2003, a total of 71 cases of monkeypox have been reported to CDC from Wisconsin (39), Indiana (16), Illinois (12), Missouri (two), Kansas (one), and Ohio (one); these include 35 (49%) cases laboratory-confirmed at CDC and 36 (51%) suspect and probable cases under investigation by state and local health departments (Figure 1). Eleven cases were excluded from those reported previously because they met the exclusion criteria outlined in the updated national case definition, and one new case was added (1). The number of cases increased from May 15 through the week ending June 8 and declined subsequently; the date of onset for the last case was June 20. Of the 71 cases, 39 (55%) occurred among females; the median age was 28 years (range: 1–51 years). Age data were unavailable for one patient. Among 69 patients for whom data were available, 18 (26%) were hospitalized; some patients were hospitalized for isolation precautions only. Two patients, both children, had serious clinical illness (14); both of these patients have recovered. The majority of patients were exposed to prairie dogs. Some patients were exposed in premises where prairie dogs were kept, and others were exposed to persons with monkeypox. No patients have been confirmed to have had exposure to persons with monkeypox as their only possible exposure.”

Apparently not. 

Is this how every rare and exotic new pathogenic threat is going to be treated, now that we’ve got everyone’s attention for 2 years of social/political/economic upheaval? 

Here is the tweet that brought this to my attention.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Josh Stevenson

    Josh lives in Nashville Tennessee and is a data visualization expert who focuses on creating easy to understand charts and dashboards with data. Throughout the pandemic, he has provided analysis to support local advocacy groups for in-person learning and other rational, data-driven covid policies. His background is in computer systems engineering & consulting, and his Bachelor’s degree is in Audio Engineering. His work can be found on his substack “Relevant Data.”

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