Monkeypox cases may be stabilizing in Los Angeles, health officials say

There are now more than 16,600 known cases of monkeypox in the United States, and the numbers are growing, as the country races to control the outbreak before the disease takes hold. Cases have been reported in all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico. No deaths have been reported in the United States

California and New York State are both reporting more than 3,000 cumulative cases, the highest in the country. Los Angeles County accounts for approximately 44% of California’s total.

Here in Los Angeles, the monkeypox outbreak has reached 1,349 people. That’s an increase of over 300 people in less than a week, but it’s actually an improvement. A month ago, monkeypox cases in Los Angeles were doubling every nine days. Now it takes 16 days for cases to double, indicating that new cases of monkeypox may stabilize.

“We are cautiously optimistic that this is going to be real and that it will hold,” Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the LA County Department of Public Health, said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s stabilizing, I wouldn’t say it’s going down any further,” she added.

Similar trends are seen in countries where the outbreak began and in other jurisdictions in the United States, she said.

Why the spread is slowing down

Dr Singhal pointed to three reasons why transmission could start to slow: increased availability of vaccines, men who have sex with men changed their behavior to avoid high-risk situations and how the virus spreads.

“It doesn’t transmit as easily as COVID, it requires prolonged close contact,” Dr Singhal said. “When you have an infectious agent like this, it’s going to deplete faster when it’s in a community or among a group of people.”

Although anyone can get monkeypox, gay and bisexual men who have had multiple sexual partners are most at risk from this epidemic, according to health authorities. Data from LA County Public Health shows that about 98% of those who test positive are male, and those ages 30 to 39 account for nearly half of all cases.

Although a large proportion of monkeypox cases in the current outbreak were acquired through sexual contact, the virus is not a sexually transmitted infection and can be spread through prolonged contact with skin, clothing, or bedding. of an infected person.

Courtesy of LA County Public Health Department)

Recommended preventive measures

Health officials recommend avoiding close physical contact — sexual and non-sexual — with people showing symptoms of illness, sores or rashes.

It’s also possible to get infected from someone who doesn’t have sores or a rash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a period of three to 17 days during which a person can be infected but has not yet developed symptoms.

Earlier this week, public health expanded eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine. The extended criteria now includes people of any gender or sexual orientation who, in the past two weeks, have engaged in transactional sex in exchange for food, money, shelter, or other goods. Also added are gay or bisexual men who have recently had skin-to-skin or intimate contact, such as cuddling or kissing, in large venues or events.

The announcement opens the door for more women to be vaccinated – until recently only women who were close contacts qualified.

The Jynneos vaccine is still available to people who met the prior eligibility criteria, including men who have sex with men or a transgender person who have been diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the last 12 months, are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), or had anonymous sex or multiple partners in the last 21 days.

LA County received an additional 41,300 doses of the Jynneos vaccine this week. Eligible persons can register for a vaccination here.

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Jackie Fortiér is helping Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what works and what doesn’t in our health response.

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