Is an anticipated mpox summer resurgence coming sooner than expected?
Uptick in Chicago mpox cases

An increase in the number of mpox diagnoses in Chicago, the highest weekly new case rate in the U.S. so far this year, has sparked national concern among public health officials.

From April 17–May 5, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) identified new 11 mpox cases, plus five suspected ones, according to David Kern, deputy CDPH commissioner. By comparison, in about three months before April 17, only one case had been detected.

Howard Brown Health Center, a major Chicago LGBTQ+ health care provider, confirmed seven of the cases, all among men who have sex with men (MSM) and who were ages 31–46. Six of the men had been fully vaccinated (having received both vaccine doses); one was partially vaccinated, according to Howard Brown chief medical director Patrick Gibbons. Two of the men were living with HIV, Gibbons said, but their HIV was at undetectable levels and their mpox cases were mild.

Public health experts have been concerned they would see a resurgence of mpox over the summer. Last year’s mpox epidemic particularly hit gay men and the MSM community. Public health officials say it will be important to get the message out to get vaccinated and get tested before International Mister Leather (May 25–29 in Chicago), Pride events in June, Chicago’s Northalsted Market Days (August 12–13) and other summer activities.

In a Monday afternoon Zoom call quickly organized by the National Coalition of STD Directors, officials from Howard Brown, along with doctors from the Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator of the White House National Mpox Response, spoke to more than 500 people representing public health agencies and nonprofit health services organizations across the country.

“We’re very concerned that we’re going to see [elsewhere] what Chicago has experienced,” said CDC deputy director Chris Braden.

As to why these new cases were found among men who had been vaccinated, Howard Brown’s Gibbons speculated that they might be more likely to be engaged in or have better access to health care. He expressed concern that more vulnerable communities have less access, fewer resources and perhaps undetected mpox cases. Braden suggested the possibility that immunity from the vaccine might wane over time or that the virus might mutate to overcome immunity. However, people who had been vaccinated and developed mpox were more likely to experience milder symptoms and were significantly less likely to be hospitalized.

For this reason, promoting testing and prevention will be essential at the federal and community levels, said Dr. Patrick Stonehouse, and that peer-to-peer communication will be especially important, in the LGBTQ+ community and in communities affected by health inequities.

In Chicago, anyone vulnerable to mpox acquisition who has not been previously vaccinated can schedule an appointment at Howard Brown. Howard Brown has nine medical clinics throughout the city and operates walk-in clinics at its 55th Street (Hyde Park), 63rd Street (Englewood) and Sheridan Road (Uptown) locations.

If you are experiencing mpox-type symptoms (new bumps, blisters, or rash in the face, trunk, hands, or back), contact Howard Brown at (773) 388-1600 to get tested. For more information about mpox prevention, symptoms, vaccination and treatment, go to