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The monkeypox outbreak is a public health emergency in the United States, Xavier Becerra, the secretary of health and human services, said today. The disease has been spreading in the US since May, and cases have been rising around the world.

“We urge every American to take monkey pox seriously,” he said in a press briefing today.

The decision to declare a public health emergency follows the World Health Organization’s declaration in late July that monkeypox is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. A number of states, including New York and California, have also declared health emergencies.

A public health emergency could accelerate access to existing treatments for the painful disease. Monkeypox vaccines already exist…

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