Expert: We are dealing with an even more contagious sub-type of COVID-19, but the risk of another disease, monkeypox, to the public is low

CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s been nearly three months since city leaders lifted COVID-19 restrictions – but heading into summer, experts warn we could see more COVID cases.

As reported by CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza, Chicago is set to become a high-risk area for COVID-19 as early as this week.

Meanwhile, we’re also hearing new reports of another disease — monkeypox — with cases popping up around the world and here in the US

Franza spoke to Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Monkeypox is rarely identified outside of Africa, but as of Friday there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide, including at least two in the United States, and another 50 suspected cases. The first case was confirmed in Massachusetts last week, and authorities in New York are investigating another suspected infection. No infections have been reported in Illinois.

Although the disease belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, its symptoms are milder. Patients usually recover within two to four weeks without requiring hospitalization, but the disease is occasionally fatal.

According to Joshi, monkeypox “involves flu-like symptoms — so maybe a fever, body aches, maybe something in the upper respiratory tract — and then there’s a rash.”

Should people be concerned about this? President Joe Biden said the cases in Europe and the US are “something to worry about,” but Joshi stressed, “I think the risk to the public from monkeypox is very low.”

He predicts that the outbreak will be contained.

“You don’t see these big, big outbreaks of hundreds or thousands of cases,” Joshi said.

But more difficult to contain, of course, is the ever-changing coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re dealing with a new subvariant, the Omicron variant, that appears to be more contagious,” Joshi said.

BA.2.12.1 is a subvariant of Omicron.

Chicago is expected to reach high transmission levels as early as this week, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“While hospitalizations aren’t increasing to the levels we’ve seen before, they’re still increasing,” Joshi said.

He advised vaccination and booster if you qualify.

“One of our main goals here was to protect the health system,” Joshi said.

We asked about the possibility that Chicago could reintroduce its mask mandate. We’ve been told it’s a possibility – if hospitals become too overwhelmed.

Right now there is no strain on Chicago hospitals.

Leave a Comment