(WHTM) — Monkeypox has officially been declared a public health emergency in the United States.

There are currently about 7,500 cases of monkeypox in the country and 205 in Pennsylvania. “Predominantly in the Philadelphia area, as well as the Philadelphia suburbs,” said Geoffrey Roche, a member of the population health faculty at Harrisburg University.

Most cases have been in urban areas, and experts like Roche want to emphasize, “This is not something that people need to panic about.”

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The public health emergency, declared by the federal government, will help provide more resources to address monkeypox both in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

“We will actually be able to move up the timeline to actually get into the national stockpile. And get more access to vaccine and stuff instead of October timeframe. It’ll now happen in sometime between late August, early September,” Roche added.

The public health emergency could boost the limited supply of vaccines currently available.

“Particularly for those individuals who are more concerned about it or who may be immunocompromised, you know, talk to your medical professionals, get a sense from them as to what their recommendations are,” Roche said.

Symptoms of monkeypox can mimic that of COVID-19 or the flu, but monkeypox will cause a unique rash that looks like blisters.

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“I know there’s been a lot of news that has specifically been reporting that this is just the type of virus that infects members of the LGBTQ plus community that is not actually accurate. This can affect anybody,” Roche said.

Monkeypox is spread through close, direct contact with infected people.

“What’s important is that you know, the symptoms and that you know, to contact your medical provider, should you face those symptoms just as you would with any other situation,” Roche said.

The Pennsylvania State Department of Health says it is monitoring the situation and expects to have more information and guidance as time goes on.

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