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Two days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a public health emergency over monkeypox on Tuesday, San Diego County followed suit.
The statement, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County Health Officer, due to the limited supply of vaccines, the city’s large population and the global spread of the viral disease. However, health officials told the public that the outbreak was “fundamentally” different from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The situation we face with monkeypox is fundamentally different,” said Nathan Fletcher, the San Diego District Superintendent, according to the Times of San Diego. “We take it very seriously, but as I mentioned, it’s exponentially less transferrable. We know more about it. We also have a vaccine at the beginning.”
“Right now, monkeypox outbreaks are disproportionately affecting our LGBTQ community, but we know it can spread to others,” Fletcher added. “And it’s critically important that we don’t stigmatize anyone, that we don’t stigmatize a community, that we don’t slander.”
WHO DECLARES MONKEY POXEN A GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
The current count of confirmed cases of monkeypox in the county is 46, all males, and 39 who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. No hospital admissions or deaths have occurred. Fletcher noted that the main difficulty is finding an available supply of monkeypox vaccine. To date, the county has received 3,987 doses of vaccine and administered 2,454.
By declaring a public health emergency, the county now has more powers to use its resources to give more vaccines along with contact tracing and make testing more accessible to the public. Health officials estimate 66,000 people in the county are in the high-risk category for the disease.
The San Diego board of directors must ratify the declaration in exactly one week and vote to extend it at least every 30 days. From Wednesday, the district will start providing official infection numbers on a daily basis.
MONKEYPOX NUMBERS: FACTS ABOUT THE RARE VIRUS THAT IS CURRENTLY SPREADING
The county will also provide resources for the public to receive new information about the outbreak via text message. Residents receive real-time updates on monkeypox and available health services.
Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease in the same virus family as smallpox, with symptoms including fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistered rash that typically dries out the skin, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals may experience mild symptoms, but the ability to carry the virus without symptoms is currently unknown. These symptoms usually last between 2 and 4 weeks after initial exposure.
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