Illinois declares monkeypox a public health emergency — what to know

Governor JB Pritzker on Monday declared monkeypox a public health emergency for the entire state of Illinois.

The declaration allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to utilize resources and funds across the state, and quickly distribute vaccines in the prevention and treatment of the virus.

"MPV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent the spread," Governor Pritzker said in a statement. "That’s why I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure smooth coordination between state agencies and all levels of government, thereby increasing our ability to prevent and treat the disease quickly. We have seen this virus disproportionately impact the LGBTQ+ community in its initial spread. Here in Illinois we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care."

The declaration by Pritzker takes effect immediately and is in place for 30 days.


The state of Illinois has reported 520 cases of monkeypox — the third most in the country. The state has more than 7,000 doses of vaccine, with additional doses expected to arrive soon.

"There’s nothing to make us believe the virus will be contained in one population," said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health. "It’s really contact with the virus."

Howard Brown Health provides medical care to thousands of adults and youth from the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago.

The organization has diagnosed monkeypox in 150 patients and are awaiting results for 100. Howard Brown Health has mostly seen gay men, but early signs show the virus has the ability to spread beyond that — and there’s no way of detecting the virus early.

"It’s also hard to test for monkeypox, the only way to test is from an actual lesion," said Munar.

Howard Brown says they are administering 1,500 vaccines for monkeypox a week.

"A comprehensive and swift response is key when containing a disease outbreak," IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. "These measures will allow the state to deploy all our resources in fighting this disease and will open efficient lines of communication and cooperation across state lines, an essential step in tracking monkeypox and improving tools and processes to prevent and address it."

Also on Monday, the state of California declared monkeypox a state of emergency.

On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

Monkeypox Symptoms

Monkeypox begins as a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These bumps can appear all over the body — including your face, hands, feet, mouth, genitals or anus — and can become infected.

The symptoms usually start between a week to two weeks after exposure but may not appear for up to 21 days. The sickness can last from two to four weeks with flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and body aches and pains—like a weaker version of smallpox.


"If you have a new or unexpected rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, contact a health care provider," health officials say. "A person is contagious until all sores have healed, and a new layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks."

More information is available on the CDC's website.