How common are viruses in the general population?

As cases of monkeypox continue to rise in the Bay Area and the rest of the country, many epidemiologists believe it’s only a matter of time before the virus that spreads in the LGBTQ community spreads to the general population.

And some early indicators suggest that the leap has already occurred. On Friday, a day before the Centers for Disease Control declared monkeypox a global health emergency, the agency said a California baby had tested positive for the virus.

Even so, the fate of monkeypox remains unclear.

“This is a question asked about HIV when these infections first occur,” said Dr. Lee W. Riley, professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at the University of Berkeley. “It took a while before it started to appear in the general population. It happens (with monkeypox). It is difficult to say when it will happen.

A total of 320 cases have been reported in the six Bay Area counties, most of them in San Francisco, with 215. Alameda has 56, Santa Clara County has 39 and San Mateo, Marin and Contra Costa counties are still the lowest. numbers. California, with 356 cases, is second in the nation behind New York.

Some early data also suggest that certain racial groups are disproportionately affected by the virus.

Data released Tuesday by Alameda County show that Latinos account for 54% of the cases, even though they make up less than a quarter of the county’s population. Latinos make up just 15 percent of the city’s population, but account for 30 percent of the city’s cases of monkeypox, according to data released last week. Similar information from Santa Clara County was not immediately available.

At the same time, a number of scenarios and factors determine the spread of the virus, R– said Iley. The virus is believed to be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sex, and there are cases in case concentrated among gay men.

But Lee said that if the bisexual male community were to extend it to women, it could reach beyond the LGBTQ population.

“It all depends on the behavior of the infected people,” he said. If people have sex with a partner they know will later test positive for monkeypox, getting the vaccine as early as possible is the most effective way to curb the spread, Lee said.

But vaccines are still hard to come by in the Bay Area, and the virus could spread among a largely unprotected population. On Tuesday, Santa Clara County said it had only 292 doses on hand. Two of their faces are reserved for appointments to relax for those found to be at high risk of infection through contact tracing. And in San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital was forced to close its doors on Tuesday because of a lack of supplies.

“We encourage advocacy from members of the public to really call on the federal government to provide the vaccine,” said Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Hahn speaks to reporters on Thursday. “The demand for people who need it is greater than the supply we have.”

Some health professionals are more th is conservative in measurementand can spread monkeypox.

“I really doubt it will reach much of the general population,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a UC infectious disease specialistSF. he noted Asymptomatic transmission is unlikely because monkeypox causes large lesions that can be easily identified by an infected person.

“You’ll know it when,” he said. “And you can easily see it when the light is on. I’m not one to throw cold water on romance, but there’s something to be said for seeing if (your partner) has wounds. “

Dspike According to Rutherford, while other diseases that primarily affect the LGBTQ community may not have jumped as much, bisexual men may have spread to the general population. For example, HIV still disproportionately affects LGBTQ people, while heterosexual cases of the virus are mostly caused by drug use, he noted.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 20: People wait in line outside General Hospital in San Francisco, California to receive a shot of the monkeypox vaccine, Wednesday morning, July 20, 2022. (Carl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

However, epidemiologists Lee and Rutherford emphasized that monkeypox was not spread through gay sex. Anyone can get infected, they said.

“There is no magic in men who have sex with men. In the current outbreak, only the population has been infected for the first time,” Rutherford said. He noted that earlier epidemics affected all types of people. For example, monkeypox occurred in six states in 2003 when prairie dogs were exposed to mammals brought from Africa. In this case, the LGBTQ community was not involved.

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