CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker issued a proclamation Monday declaring monkeypox a public health emergency, declaring Illinois a disaster area. This disaster proclamation will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to coordinate vaccinations and treatments across the state, as well as with the federal government.

Declaring a state of disaster expands the resources and coordination efforts of state agencies in responding to, treating, and preventing the spread of monkeypox. It will also allow IDPH to partner with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to respond quickly in case of outbreak.

“A comprehensive and swift response is key when containing a disease outbreak,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “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.”

The monkeypox virus (MPV) is clinically known as orthopox, is a disease related to smallpox—or variola—though monkeypox is typically less severe. Monkeypox typically presents 7-14 days after exposure and symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backaches, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes,

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been monitoring all cases in the US.

Illinois currently has reported 520 cases of monkeypox, the third highest number of cases in the United States.

“MPV is a rare, but potentially serious disease that requires the full mobilization of all available public health resources to prevent the spread,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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.”

Monkeypox is often transmitted through skin-on-skin contact, including sexual contact, but can also be transmitted through touching linens used by someone who is infected.

Illinois has received more than 7,000 doses of the monkeypox virus vaccine from the federal government, and is limiting vaccination to people with confirmed or presumptive cases of MPV, as well as those who have been exposed to a confirmed case.

IDPH recommends that if someone has a rash illness that they are concerned about they should talk with, or see, a health care provider about their symptoms. They should not have close contact with other individuals until they have seen a health provider if monkeypox is suspected.

In general, people should avoid close, skin to skin contact with people who have a rash that might be monkeypox.

For more information on monkeypox, visit the CDC’s website.

Illinois’ Disaster Proclamation will remain in effect for 30 days unless renewed by the governor.