Long Beach has its first monkeypox case in a child, health officials say

Preliminary test results show a child in Long Beach has contracted monkeypox, according to city health officials, who said they’re still waiting for additional testing from the Centers for Disease Control to confirm the infection.

“While news of a pediatric case may cause alarm, please remember that monkeypox is still rare, is much more difficult to get than COVID-19 and other common childhood illnesses, and is rarely dangerous,” City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in the city’s announcement Tuesday.

The infected child was symptomatic but is now recovered, said health officials, who released no further details about the minor. Monkeypox symptoms include fever, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and painful lesions that can appear on the face, inside the mouth or on other parts of the body like the hands, feet, chest, genitals and anus.

The city’s Health Department is now “conducting an extensive contact investigation” to determine who may have come into contact with the child, and is offering vaccines to anyone who’s been exposed, health officials said.

“Most childhood rashes will NOT be from monkeypox,” said Davis. “That said, the rash can be very uncomfortable and could pose a threat to vulnerable populations, so we urge everyone to call their healthcare provider if they have a new or unusual rash or have been in contact with someone who has monkeypox.”

Though health officials reiterated that the odds of contracting monkeypox are low, it is still possible for anyone to contract the virus. It can spread through close or prolonged skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact, including between household members, according to health officials.

Although monkeypox has primarily spread among men who have sex with men in Long Beach and across the country, health officials have emphasized this is not a “gay disease” or a sexually transmitted disease.

“This can include hugging, kissing, cuddling, holding and feeding,” Long Beach health officials said in an Aug. 2 statement on the pediatric case. “It can also spread through contaminated materials, such as cups, bedding, clothing, towels and utensils.”

There have been 20 probable and confirmed monkeypox cases in Long Beach as of Aug. 2, according to health officials. The city announced the first case on July 16.

To date, no one infected with monkeypox in Long Beach has required hospitalization and all are either recovered or are isolating and recovering at home, according to city health officials.

Also on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors ratified a local emergency declaration in response to the monkeypox outbreak.

“This proclamation is critical in helping us get ahead of this virus,” Board Chair Holly Mitchell said in a statement. “By declaring a local emergency, it allows us to cut through the red tape to better dedicate resources and educate residents on how to protect themselves and help stop the spread. It will also allow the county to quickly administer vaccines as more become available and to take the necessary efforts to obtain supplies and enhance outreach and awareness.”

As part of the proclamation, the Board of Supervisors will request recovery assistance be made available under the California Disaster Assistance Act, and that the state expedite access to state and federal resources and any other appropriate federal disaster relief programs.

The Board of Supervisors will also direct county departments to implement all assessment, assistance and monitoring efforts as applicable.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide monkeypox emergency on Monday. That declaration will help the state coordinate a government-wide response, acquire more vaccine doses and lead outreach and education efforts on where people can get treatment, according to the Associated Press.

The Long Beach Health Department asks that all residents visit www.longbeach.gov/monkeypox for facts and regularly updated information on monkeypox.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Explainer: Monkeypox has arrived in Long Beach. Who’s at risk and who can get vaccinated?

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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