As cases rise in Long Beach, officials say monkeypox is ‘not a gay disease’

The United States now leads the world in confirmed monkeypox cases — more than 4,600 — and the city of Long Beach is stepping up efforts to make monkeypox vaccines readily available.

California has reported nearly 800 cases, including 261 among Los Angeles County residents.

Monkeypox cases are counted separately in Long Beach. While the number of cases in this city is still relatively low, the number has tripled since the first cases were reported nearly two weeks ago. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said 12 residents have confirmed cases.

“None of these 12 people required any type of hospitalization. Certainly none lost their lives and so we are very grateful for that. And the 12 here in our city are self-isolating at them,” Garcia said.

The city announced that it was expanding its monkeypox vaccination clinic operations. Some 1,600 Long Beach residents contacted the city’s health department to request the JYNNEOS vaccine. Eligible people are those who have had close contact with a confirmed case.

“Individuals who attended an event or location where there was a confirmed high risk of exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox,” said Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis.

Other eligible people are those who work in or frequent commercial sex venues, as well as gay, bisexual, or transgender people taking HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis medication or PrEP, and those who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or of syphilis in the last 12 months.

The United Nations health agency declares monkeypox a global emergency, the disease is now present in 70 countries

While the majority of cases are in men who have sex with men, APLA Health’s chief medical officer says monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease and anyone can get the virus.

“It’s not a gay disease. Activities are activities we all do — cuddling, sex, dancing, kissing,” Davis said.

“It spreads through skin contact, but since it’s summer and Pride season and people go dancing and have a lot of skin-to-skin contact, whether it’s sexual contact or other close contacts,” said Dr. Jay Gladstein of APLA Health. .

So far, Long Beach has received 1,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine and the city has distributed 400 to community health partners in the LGBTQ+ community.

Officials say treatment will depend on how sick a person is or how likely they are to become seriously ill, such as someone with a weakened immune system.

Most people make a full recovery in two to four weeks without needing specific treatment, Davis added.

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