Citing a limited supply of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued a health advisory encouraging residents to take precautions to avoid becoming infected with the disease.
As of July 15, more than 12,000 cases of monkeypox had been reported globally, including 1,814 cases in the United States, 250 in California and 85 in Los Angeles County. While people of any gender and sexual orientation can acquire and spread monkeypox, most cases have been among men who have sex with men and transgender women.
Monkeypox is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. It is rarely fatal. The symptoms are similar to those of smallpox, but milder. Symptoms of monkeypox typically include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash that can look like pimples or blisters sometimes appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body.
While exposure to respiratory secretions can lead to monkeypox infection, most reported cases both locally and nationally have been linked to skin-to-skin contact with someone infected with this virus, local health officials said.
“Your risk of being exposed can increase when having any kind of sex or other intimate contact, including hugging or kissing, with multiple or anonymous people (such as those met through social media, dating apps, or at parties). Clubs, raves, saunas, sex parties and other activities where there is skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with many people may also increase your risk of exposure, especially if people are wearing less clothing,” according to a health department news release.
The department added that the virus can also spread by touching monkeypox lesions on a person’s skin; touching contaminated objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, towels), and surfaces that have been in contact with someone with monkeypox; and/or coming in contact with respiratory droplets or secretions from the eyes, nose and mouth from a person with monkeypox.
Due to the limited supply, the monkeypox vaccine is currently available to those at higher risk including:
— people with a known exposure to a Public Health confirmed monkeypox case;
— persons who attended an event where there was high risk of exposure to a confirmed monkeypox case;
— high-risk individuals identified in the LA County jail, and;
— gay and bisexual men and transgender individuals who have had a recent diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis
For more details on vaccination eligibility and where to get tested or vaccinated, residents can visit http://ph.lacounty.gov/media/Monkeypox/.
The county health department will continue to expand eligibility for the vaccination as the federal government distributes additional doses.
“Without adequate supply of vaccine from the federal government, residents, especially those at higher risk for monkeypox, should take precautions to avoid becoming infected,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, LA County’s chief health officer.
“Like all other infectious diseases, anyone can get monkeypox, and while we wait for more vaccine, it is critical that residents assess their risk, learn how to recognize monkeypox, and take steps to protect themselves. We also encourage those who suspect they have monkeypox to talk to a doctor to get tested and to take steps to prevent spreading it to anyone else.”