In Long Beach, a boy gets monkeypox; LA County has declared a state of emergency

A child in Long Beach has contracted monkeypox, health officials said, hours after Los Angeles County leaders declared a local emergency over the outbreak.

“While the news about the pediatric case is alarming, keep in mind that monkeypox is still rare, much more severe than COVID-19 and other common childhood illnesses, and is rarely life-threatening,” said Dr. City Health Officer Anissa Davis said in a Long Beach announcement Tuesday.

The Long Beach boy is the second case of monkeypox in California and the fifth known pediatric case in the United States.

Long Beach health officials said they are awaiting further testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the infection, adding that the child was symptomatic but has since recovered. A city spokeswoman confirmed the boy’s infection was linked to family members, but declined to provide further details.

Earlier in the day, LA County Board of Supervisors Chairman Holly J. Mitchell issued an ordinance declaring a local state of emergency due to increasing cases of monkeypox. The measure, which the board immediately ratified, is an effort to strengthen the response to the outbreak. A day ago, California declared a state of emergency due to the virus.

“This is a serious health issue that deserves support and prompt action,” Mitchell said. “Declaring a local state of emergency is about helping our county do everything we can to prevent and stay ahead of this virus.”

Monkey pox cases in L.A. County reached 423 on Tuesday, up more than 80% from a week ago, according to the county health department’s tally of confirmed and probable cases. County data shows that most cases are confirmed in men who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

Long Beach has had 20 confirmed or probable cases and Pasadena reported its first four cases on Tuesday. Both cities have their own public health departments and therefore report separately from Los Angeles County.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the declaration of state and local emergencies will help her agency better respond to the virus, as well as a new shipment of 19,000 additional vaccines the county received over the weekend. For weeks, health officials and LGBTQ activists have raised concerns about the number of vaccines available and who has access to preventive and post-exposure vaccinations.

But Ferrer said declaring a state of emergency “makes a difference because it gives us easier access to some of the resources we need.”

“This will allow us to have more flexibility in using staff from other departments to help us respond,” he said, a move that is particularly important in contracting, education and outreach and vaccine distribution, he added.

The outbreak in California and around the world disproportionately affects men who have sex with men, as well as transgender and non-binary people, although anyone can contract the virus through skin-to-skin contact or through tissue. virus.

San Diego also declared a local state of emergency for the virus on Tuesday, with confirmed and suspected cases reaching nearly 50.

Los Angeles County and San Francisco far lead the state, accounting for two-thirds of California’s more than 1,100 infections. San Francisco declared a monkeypox emergency last week, with more than 380 cases as of Monday.

Ferrer said Tuesday that the federal government recently allocated an additional 48,000 doses of the Ginneos vaccine to L.A. County, which will be sent in three shipments, the first of which arrived over the weekend. The latest 19,000 doses — nearly equal to the county’s previous intake — allowed the county to expand vaccine eligibility and reopen the online registration process.

Previous groups, including those with HIV, are still eligible, public health officials say, but the qualifications have now been expanded and simplified to include poly or bisexual men or transgender people. anonymous sex partners in the last two weeks. Individuals must self-certify that they meet these requirements by registering online.

People who are eligible for the vaccine can call 211 to sign up for the shot, or contact a public health clinic or provider to see if they have been designated a vaccine site.

The county also announced a new vaccine clinic will open Wednesday in West Hollywood. Many LGBTQ advocates have called for such a site, citing a lack of facilities near the epicenter of LA’s queer community.

Ferrer said it’s unclear when the remaining 29,000 doses will arrive in L.A. County, but he hopes this month. However, he cautioned that the distribution may not be enough.

“Even if we get everyone at this high risk, we don’t have enough doses for everyone in this group,” Ferrer said. He called monkeypox a “similar challenge” to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to a lack of vaccines and tests.

“It’s going to be difficult to do what we all want, which is to actually make sure that we can eliminate the ongoing transmission of monkeypox in the United States,” Ferrer said. “I don’t think it’s possible.”

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