Monkeypox, now known as mpox, showing signs of return

A patient receives the mpox vaccine in New York in August. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
7 min

It’s time for gay and bisexual men to pay attention to mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, again.

That’s the message from public health authorities and LGBT health providers as cases rise in some countries and small clusters of infections in vaccinated people have been detected in Chicago and France.

The World Health Organization on May 11 said mpox no longer presents a public health emergency of international concern because global cases have declined and countries are better equipped to respond, but that doesn’t mean the threat is eliminated. Last year’s mpox outbreak started in the spring, driven in part by festivals, pride events and other celebrations popular among gay men where attendees are traveling and having sex with new partners.

“I don’t think it’s a very high risk right now for people, but it is something they need to be aware of and take action for as they plan for summer,” said Demetre Daskalakis, a top federal official on the mpox response.

How the monkeypox outbreak revealed a path for quelling viruses

Public health authorities aren’t expecting a repeat of last year’s explosion of cases, more than 30,000 in the U.S. and 87,000 globally, because of greater awareness and widespread vaccination and protection from earlier infections. But smaller scale outbreaks are still possible, including in those with some immunity. Officials warned last year that they could not say how long protection against mpox from the Jynneos vaccine would last.

Here’s what you need to know.