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

The US is now leading the world in confirmed monkeypox cases – more than 4,600 – and the city of Long Beach is ramping up efforts to make monkeypox vaccines readily available.

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California has reported nearly 800 cases and 261 of those are in Los Angeles County residents.

Monkeypox cases are counted separately in Long Beach. While the number of cases in that city is still relatively small, the count 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 individuals have required any type of hospitalization. Certainly, none have lost their lives and so we’re very grateful for that. And all 12 in our city are isolating at home,” said Garcia.

The city announced it is expanding its monkeypox vaccine Clinic operations. Some, 1,600 Long Beach Residents have contacted the city health department requesting the JYNNEOS vaccine. People who are eligible include those who have had a close contact with a confirmed case.

“People who have attended an event or venue where there was a 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 at or attend commercial sex venues as well as gay, bisexual or transgender individuals who take the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis medication or PrEP, and those with who were diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis in the last 12 months.

The UN health agency declares monkeypox a global emergency, disease now found in 70 countries

While the majority of cases are among men who have sex with men, the Chief Medical Officer with APLA Health says monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease and anyone can get the virus.

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

“It’s spread by skin contact, but with it being summer and pride season and people going to dances and having a lot of potentially skin-to-skin contact whether that’s sexual contact or other close contact,” said Dr. Jay Gladstein with APLA Health .

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

Officials say treatment will depend on how sick someone gets or how likely they are to get severely ill, such as someone who has a weakened immune system.

Most people will recover fully within two to four weeks without the need for specific treatment, Davis added.

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