Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are hoping their declaration of a local emergency on Tuesday, Aug. 2, will help the public health department gain control over an emerging outbreak of monkeypox. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are at increased risk of contracting the virus, according to the CDC.
Offered as a proclamation by Supervisor Holly Mitchell, board chair, and approved by a 5-0 vote, the emergency is designed to help the county obtain state and federal resources, including additional doses of vaccines, which have been in short supply for the last few weeks.
“The Proclamation of Local Emergency enables the County to more effectively respond to monkeypox, accelerate the procurement of vital supplies, seek and utilize mutual aid, and potentially obtain reimbursement and assistance from the state and federal government,” the emergency declaration read.
A copy has been sent to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and was passed on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency for California adopted late Monday.
Newsom’s proclamation enables emergency medical services personnel to administer monkeypox vaccines that are approved by the FDA, similar to the statutory authorization recently enacted for pharmacists to administer vaccines. L.A. County’s declaration was the state’s second among local entities; San Francisco last week declared its own state of emergency. The Bay Area city’s caseload has topped 300 so far.
L.A. County has been hit hard by the outbreak and local officials say their resources to battle the virus are severely limited.
“We have some, we don’t have enough vaccines,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to the supervisors during a briefing Tuesday. The county administered close to 24,000 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine over the weekend through Monday, she said.
The county received 48,120 new doses from federal authorities, reported Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the county health department on Tuesday. The county is moving to expand availability in the coming weeks as more doses arrive. The county’s portal for signing up for the vaccine was paused Tuesday, as the county prepares to administer another round of doses at public vaccinations sites.
Those initially eligible are gay, bisexual and transgender individuals diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months or those on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); or those who attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners (e.g., saunas, bathhouses, sex clubs) within past 21 days.
The county has recorded more than 400 cases of monkeypox as of Aug. 1, said Adam Cohen of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Most likely that is the tip of the iceberg,” he testified at the supervisors’ meeting. He also emphasized a need of about $10 million to fight a growing outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the county.
Amid growing infections, L.A. County has also confirmed local transmission of the orthopoxvirus, noting that some patients had no known history of recent travel. But public health officials insisted during an online briefing Friday that the risk of infection in the general population remains extremely low.
On Tuesday, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) has confirmed a presumptive case of monkeypox infection in a child. Preliminary test results indicate that the child has tested positive for orthopoxvirus but that has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is a reminder that everyone, regardless of age or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if they come into contact with the virus,” the Long Beach health department warned. “With children, people are advised to minimize the number of caregivers and limit interaction between siblings, including sharing toys, clothing, linens and bedding. It is also important for the infected person to limit interactions with pets in the home.”
“While news of a pediatric case may cause alarm, please remember that monkeypox is still rare, is much more difficult to get than COVID-19 and other common childhood illnesses, and is rarely dangerous,” said Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis in a prepared statement.
All four cases were adults and were under observation, officials said.
As of Monday, a total of 824 monkeypox cases were confirmed in California — the second-highest of any state, behind New York’s 1,390 — while nationwide, the aggregate count was at 5,811, according to the latest data from the CDC. L.A. County’s public health website posted 423 cases as of Tuesday, the highest level among the state’s counties.
“Monkeypox can spread through close or prolonged skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact, including between household members. This can include hugging, kissing, cuddling, holding and feeding. It can also spread through contaminated materials, such as cups, bedding, clothing, towels and utensils,” said the Long Beach health department in a press release.
Symptoms typically can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, such as hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox, according to the CDC.
“This is a serous health issue that calls for support and swift action,” said Supervisor Mitchell. “This is not a sexually transmitted infection — it is spread by close contact. Others, such as nannies, massage therapists, tattoo artists and home care workers need to stay educated and protected.”
Source: Orange County Register