The first case of monkeypox (a type of Orthopoxvirus) first appeared in the United States in Boston, Massachusetts on May 18, 2022. Since then the case number has grown exponentially. As of August 2, Monkeypox has since spread to 48 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
This week, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a “state of emergency” for the outbreak, following a similar move by the city of San Francisco, and WHO (the World Health Organization) who declared it a global health emergency on July 23. On August 4, the Biden administration announced it is declaring monkeypox a public health emergency in an effort to speed up the distribution of the vaccines and expand testing.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters in a call. “And we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.”
As of August 4, there are a total of 7,102 confirmed monkeypox cases in the United States. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the federal supply of Monkeypox vaccine remains limited. The Public Health priority is to administer a first dose of vaccine to as many people who are at higher risk for Monkeypox exposure as possible. When the vaccine supply improves, Public Health will make second doses available.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone can get or spread monkeypox. Though as of now the virus is mostly spreading in communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), it is important to remember that anyone is susceptible.
How does monkeypox spread?
Monkeypox spreads through close bodily contact with an infected person — from oral, anal and vaginal sex to even hugging and kissing.
Though it can spread from direct contact with the sores or rash of someone who has it or through respiratory droplets from face to face contact, it can also spread through their used items like bedding, clothing, towels, etc.
What should I look out for symptom-wise?
Typical symptoms include a rash or sores that can resemble pimples or blisters. They can occur all over your body, or be concentrated on certain parts like the face, hands or feet. They are very itchy and painful, and can also be accompanied by flu symptoms like sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache and tiredness. They normally begin within two weeks of exposure to the virus.
What should I do if I am experiencing symptoms?
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, if you suspect you have monkeypox and wish to get tested:
- Contact your healthcare provider
- Call 2-1-1 (if you don’t have a provider or health insurance)
- Visit a Public Health Sexual Health Clinic
If you have monkeypox symptoms or are currently under isolation for monkeypox, please do not attend the vaccination clinics or walk-up sites. Again, If you think you have monkeypox please speak with a provider and get tested. If you do not have a provider, call 2-1-1 for assistance.
How do I get a vaccine for monkeypox?
As of August 2—though the requirements may change as supplies increase—you must meet all of the following conditions to be vaccinated for monkeypox in Los Angeles:
Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons 18 years of age and older who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for shelter, food and other goods and needs)
Note: If you are immunocompromised (including if you have advanced or uncontrolled HIV), you may be at high risk for severe disease and will be prioritized for vaccination.
Find the full requirements at publichealth.lacounty.gov
Can I do anything to help prevent getting it?
According to the CDC, here are some monkeypox prevention measure you can take:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox
- Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used (sharing eating utensils or cups, handling bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox)
- Practice safe sex (see the full list of ways to do so here), and avoid having sex if you or your partner has a new unexplained rash or has been feeling sick.
- Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure. (Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances of exposure to monkeypox.)
- A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rash you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.
How many cases are in California?
As of August 4, 2022 there are 826 confirmed monkeypox cases in California. You can check the updated numbers on the CDC’s map here.