The United States government has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency following a spike in cases.

This was confirmed by international media sites which said the decision will speed up the distribution of vaccines, treatments and federal resources to curb the spread of the virus.

The news comes just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its highest emergency alert following a worldwide surge in cases.

According to the data, cases have topped 6,600 in the United States, with a quarter of these cases in the state of New York, which declared its own state of emergency for monkeypox last week.

California and Illinois are the two states with the next highest caseloads and they both declared states of emergency earlier this week.

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 26,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide in 2022.

Although anyone can catch monkeypox, the outbreak has been largely concentrated among men who have sex with men.

However, the virus is not purely a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and can also be passed by close contact with an infected person.

Some public health experts have expressed concern that the emergency declaration could further stigmatise the disease.

The virus typically causes pimple-like rashes, which can be extremely itchy and painful, to develop and spread across the body, as well as other complications.

Infections are usually mild and clear up on their own in adult patients without treatment or hospitalisation – but the WHO has warned that young children have died at higher rates from this disease.

Officials in the US and elsewhere have recommended that people at the highest risk of exposure – including some gay and bisexual men, as well as some healthcare workers – should get the vaccine on a priority basis.