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Long Beach has 1st presumptive case of monkeypox

Long Beach Monkeypox

Long Beach has its first presumptive monkeypox case after a person tested positive for orthopoxvirus, the viral family that includes monkeypox, health officials said today. Photo: Richard Grant/special to Q Voice News

Long Beach has its first presumptive monkeypox case after a person tested positive for orthopoxvirus, the viral family that includes monkeypox, health officials said today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will do additional testing to confirm a monkeypox diagnosis, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The person, only identified as an adult, has no recent travel history or known contacts with anyone who has monkeypox. They are symptomatic, recovering, and isolating at home, officials said.

The health department has started contact tracing and offered the vaccine to anyone who may have been exposed, according to the statement.

Monkeypox and gay men: Here’s what we know

The risk of monkeypox is extremely low. Most people who develop monkeypox have a mild illness that lasts between two to four weeks, health officials have said.

Slow to respond to the gay community?

In the statement, Mayor Robert Garcia says, “We are taking monkeypox very seriously, and diligently working to vaccinate people who are at highest risk….”

Dr. Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer, says, “The risk of monkeypox is very low, but we are continuing our work and taking proactive measures to mitigate further spread.”

What Garcia and Davis didn’t mention is that, so far, monkeypox has disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ+ community, with the overwhelming number of cases in California and nationwide impacting gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

The city has not created any monkeypox awareness or education campaigns or social media posts targeting gay men.

Also, Long Beach officials have not held any press conferences about monkeypox.

In the press release, the health department does mention “most cases globally, in the U.S. and in California have been among men who have sex with men and transgender women,” but it’s buried near the end.

Vaccine eligibility

Because vaccine supplies are limited, the health department has aligned monkeypox vaccine eligibility with the Los Angeles County Health Department:

  • People who have been exposed to someone with monkeypox and do not have symptoms. But these people will be contacted by the health department
  • Patients at specialty clinics (STD or HIV clinics) who have a high risk of exposure to someone with monkeypox
  • Gay and bisexual men and transgender people with a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months and have a doctor’s referral or proof of a positive result

People who meet the vaccine eligibility criteria can contact the Long Beach health department to make an appointment, 562-570-7907

People who meet the criteria but don’t have a doctor can contact the health department for assistance in finding services.

People who have symptoms should call their health care provider, who will determine the need for testing.

People with symptoms but don’t have a doctor can contact the health department for assistance in finding services.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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