Long Beach kid gets monkey pox; LA County declares state of emergency

A child in Long Beach has contracted monkey pox, health officials said hours after Los Angeles County leaders declared a local emergency amid the spreading disease.

“While the news of a pediatric case may cause alarm, keep in mind that monkeypox is still rare, much harder to get than COVID-19 and other common childhood illnesses, and rarely dangerous,” Dr. Anissa Davis, city health official, said in Long Beach’s announcement Tuesday.

The Long Beach child is the second in California to contract monkeypox and the fifth known pediatric case in the US

Long Beach health officials, who said they are awaiting additional testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the infection, added that the child was symptomatic but has since recovered. A city spokesperson confirmed the child’s infection was linked to members of the household, but declined to release further information.

Earlier in the day, LA County Board of Trustees Chairman Holly J. Mitchell introduced a proclamation declaring a local emergency due to rising cases of monkey pox. The move, which the board has unanimously endorsed, is an effort to bolster the province’s response to the outbreak. The day before, California had declared a state of emergency because of the virus.

“This is a serious health problem that deserves support and prompt action,” Mitchell said. “The declaration of the local state of emergency is to help our county do everything we can to move forward and stay ahead of this virus.”

Monkeypox cases in LA County rose to 423 Tuesday, more than 80% more than a week earlier, according to the county health department’s tally of confirmed and probable cases. Most cases have been confirmed in men who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, province data shows.

There have been 20 confirmed or probable cases in Long Beach, and Pasadena reported the first four cases on Tuesday. The two cities have their own public health departments and therefore report cases separately from Los Angeles County.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s public health director, said the state and local emergency statements would help her agency better respond to the virus, as did a new shipment of 19,000 additional vaccines the county received this weekend. Health officials and LGBTQ activists have expressed concerns for weeks about the number of vaccines available, limiting who has access to the preventive and post-exposure immunizations.

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

“It allows us to have more flexibility to use staff from other departments to help with the response,” she said, a move that is especially important in helping with contract tracing, education and outreach, and vaccine distribution, she added. ready.

The outbreak in California — and around the world — continues to disproportionately affect men who have sex with men, as well as transgender and non-binary people, although anyone can get the virus through close skin-to-skin contact or through substances that carry the virus.

San Diego also declared a local state of emergency for the virus on Tuesday, where confirmed and suspected cases have grown to nearly 50.

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

Ferrer said Tuesday that the federal government recently assigned LA County an additional 48,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which will be shipped in three shipments, the first of which arrived over the weekend. The final 19,000 doses — which were nearly equal to the previous total the county had received — allowed the county to increase eligibility for the vaccine and reopen an online registration process.

Previous groups already eligible for inclusion — including those exposed to the virus — are still eligible, public health officials said, but the qualifications have now been expanded and simplified for any gay or bisexual man or transgender who has multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past two weeks. People just need to confirm themselves that they meet these requirements through online registration.

People who qualify for the vaccine can also call 211 for help finding and registering for an injection, officials said, or they can contact their local health clinic or provider to see if it has been designated as a vaccine site.

The county also announced a new vaccine clinic to open in West Hollywood on Wednesday. Many LGBTQ advocates had pushed for such a site, noting that facilities near the epicenter of LA’s queer community were lacking.

Ferrer said it’s not clear when the remaining 29,000 doses will arrive in LA County, but she hopes this month. Still, she warned that allocation may not be enough.

“Even if we took everyone who was just at this higher risk, we wouldn’t have enough doses for everyone in that group,” Ferrer said. She called monkey pox a “comparable challenge” to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the shortage of vaccines and testing.

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

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