A Long Beach child has contracted monkeypox, health officials said hours after Los Angeles County leaders declared a local emergency amid the spreading disease.
“While news of a pediatric case may be alarming, remember that monkeypox is still rare, is much harder to get than COVID-19 and other common childhood illnesses, and is rarely dangerous,” city health officer Dr. Anissa Davis told Long Beach announcement Tuesday.
Long Beach health officials, who said they are awaiting further 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 that the child’s infection was linked to household members, but declined to release further information.
Earlier today, Holly J. Mitchell, chairwoman of the LA County Board of Supervisors introduces a proclamation declare a local emergency in the face of increasing cases of monkeypox. The action, which the board unanimously ratified, is an effort to bolster the county’s response to the outbreak. The day before, California declared a state of emergency because of the virus.
“This is a serious health issue that deserves support and prompt action,” Mitchell said. “The local emergency proclamation 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 on Tuesday, up more than 80% from the previous week, according to the county health department tally of confirmed and probable cases. The majority of cases have been confirmed in men who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, according to county data.
In Long Beach, there was 20 confirmed or probable casesand Pasadena reported its first four cases Tuesday. Both cities have their own public health departments and therefore report cases separately from Los Angeles County.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said state and local emergency declarations will help her agency better respond to the virus, as will a new shipment of 19,000 additional vaccines the county received at the weekend course. Health officials and LGBTQ activists have for weeks raised concerns about the number of vaccines availablewhich has limited who can access preventive and post-exposure inoculations.
But Ferrer said the emergency declaration “makes a difference because it gives us easier access to some of the resources that we will need.”
“It allows us to have more flexibility to use staff from other departments to help with the response,” she said, a particularly important decision to help with contract research, education and awareness, and the distribution of vaccines, she added.
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, though anyone can catch the virus through contact close skin-to-skin or through tissue that has touched the virus.
San Diego also declared a local emergency for the virus on Tuesday, where confirmed and suspected cases rose to nearly 50.
Los Angeles County and San Francisco, however, lead the state in cases, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the more than 1,100 infections in California. Last week, San Francisco declared a state of emergency for monkeypox, with cases exceeding 380 on Monday.
Ferrer said Tuesday that the federal government recently allocated LA County an additional 48,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which will be sent in three shipments, the first of which arrived over the weekend. The last 19,000 doses — nearly equaling the previous total the county had received — allowed the county to expand vaccine eligibility and reopen an online registration treat.
The previous groups that already fulfilled eligibility for shooting – including those who have been 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 person who has had multiple sexual partners or anonymous over the past two weeks. Individuals need only certify that they meet these requirements by registering online.
People eligible for the vaccine can also call 211 for help finding and registering for a vaccine, officials said, or they can contact their community health clinic or provider to see if they have been designated as a vaccination site.
The county also announced that a new vaccination clinic will open Wednesday in West Hollywood. Many LGBTQ advocates had pushed for such a site, noting that it lacked facilities near the epicenter of Los Angeles’ queer community.
Ferrer said it’s unclear when the remaining 29,000 doses will arrive in LA County, but she hopes this month. Still, she warned that attribution might not be enough.
“Even if we took everyone who was just at that higher risk, we don’t have enough doses for everyone in that group,” Ferrer said. She called monkeypox a “similar challenge” to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic due to shortages of vaccines and tests.
“It will be difficult to do what we all want to do, which is to really make sure that we are able to eliminate the continued transmission of monkeypox in the United States,” Ferrer said. “I don’t think it’s impossible.”