Long Beach reports first presumptive case of monkeypox

Long Beach health officials said today the city confirmed its first presumptive case of monkeypox after a person recently tested positive for the orthopoxvirus.

The person, who was only identified as an adult, told officials they had not traveled recently or been in contact with anyone prior to the diagnosis. Still, health officials said they are performing contact-tracing to identify anyone may have been in close proximity to the person, who is experiencing symptoms while isolating and recovering at home.

“The risk of monkeypox is very low, but we are continuing our work and taking proactive measures to mitigate further spread,” City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a statement Saturday. “This highlights why public health is important in preparing and empowering our community by offering awareness, education and prevention methods.”

On June 2, the first case of monkeypox was detected in Los Angeles County. Since then, cases have continued to grow. As of July 15, there have been more than 12,000 cases of monkeypox reported globally, including 1,814 cases in the U.S., 250 cases in California and 85 cases in Los Angeles County, officials said.

While anyone can get the disease, most cases have been among men who have sex with men and transgender women, officials said

Monkeypox is a disease that is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox, according to health officials. The symptoms are similar to those of smallpox, but milder, and it is rarely fatal with about a 1% death rate, according to the CDC.

Sometimes people only experience a rash, which goes through different stages and often resolves in two to four weeks on its own. The rash can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus, health officials said. People who may have symptoms with monkeypox are considered infectious and should isolate until the rash resolves, health officials said.

Further testing will be performed by the Centers for Disease Control to confirm the Long Beach resident contracted monkeypox. Meanwhile, the city is offering the JYNNEOS vaccine to people who believe they may have come in contact with the infection. The vaccine can help reduce the severity of the disease.

Due to a shortage, the vaccine is only available to people that have been diagnosed with high-or intermediate-risk contact with a confirmed monkeypox case and show no symptoms, people who attended an event where there was a high risk of exposure to anyone with confirmed monkeypox through skin-to-skin or sexual contact, and gay and bisexual men and transgender women with a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months. The vaccine, however, does not help people who have or are already experiencing the symptoms of monkeypox, officials said.

“We are taking monkeypox very seriously, and diligently working to vaccinate people who are at highest risk, understanding that the vaccine is currently in extremely limited supply,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

For protection against monkeypox, health officials recommend people avoid skin-to-skin or prolonged face-to-face contact with anyone who may be experiencing symptoms. Practicing safer sex, such as reducing the number of sexual partners, keeping hands clean and maintaining respiratory etiquette can also reduce the risk of contracting monkeypox, officials said.

Treatments are available if needed, but they usually are not necessary. Health officials urge anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, that has symptoms to call their healthcare provide, who will determine the need for testing. Those who do not have a healthcare provider and are experiencing symptoms can contact the City of Long Beach’s public health information line at 562-570-7907 for assistance with finding healthcare services.

Although there is a vaccine shortage, more are expected in the coming weeks, city officials said. The requirements for who can get a vaccine will also expand, officials said.

LA County identifies first presumed case of monkeypox

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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