As cases of monkeypox continue to rise in the Bay Area and the rest of the country, many epidemiologists believe it’s only a matter of time before the virus circulates primarily within the LGBTQ community. Let it spread to the general population.
And some early signs suggest that the leap has already taken place. On Friday, a day before the Centers for Disease Control declared monkeypox a global health emergency, the agency reported that a California toddler had tested positive for the virus.
Even so, there remains considerable uncertainty about where the monkeypox is headed.
“This is the same question that was asked about HIV when the infection was first occurring,” said Dr. Lee W. Riley, professor of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley. “And it took a while until it started showing up in the general population. It will happen (with monkeys). It’s really hard to say when it will happen.”
Six Bay Area counties now have a total of 320 cases, with the majority in San Francisco, which has 215. Alameda 56, Santa Clara County 39 and San Mateo, Marin and Contra Costa counties are still in low singles. California, with 356 cases, ranks second in the nation behind New York.
Some preliminary data also suggest that certain ethnic groups are being disproportionately affected by the virus.
Data provided by Alameda County on Tuesday showed Latinos accounted for 54% of cases, though they represent less than a quarter of the county’s population. Figures released last week from San Francisco show that Latinos account for 30 percent of the city’s monkeypox cases, even though they make up only 15 percent of the city’s population. Similar data from Santa Clara County was not immediately available.
Meanwhile, several scenarios and factors will determine the widespread spread of the virus.said iley. The virus is believed to spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex. Currently concentrated among gay men.
But Lee said if the bisexual male community ends up extending it to women, it could go beyond the LGBTQ population.
“It all depends on the behavior of the people affected,” he said. If individuals have sex with a partner they later learn is positive for monkeypox, getting vaccinated as soon as possible is the most effective way to prevent its spread, Lee said.
But vaccines are still hard to come by in the Bay Area, allowing the virus to bury itself in a largely unprotected population. On Tuesday, Santa Clara County reported it had only 292 doses of the shot on hand. Two hundred of them are already reserved for placements. rest For those identified through contact tracing as being at high risk of infection. And in San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital had to close its doors to walk-in appointments again on Tuesday due to a lack of supplies.
“We encourage the advocacy of community members to really ask the federal government to provide more vaccines,” Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Hahn said on a call with reporters Thursday. “The demand for people who need it is greater than the supply we have.”
Some health professionals are more. Conservatives estimate th whenA possible outbreak of monkey pox.
“I really doubt it will reach the general population,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an infectious disease specialist at UC.SF. He noted. Asymptomatic spread is very unlikely, as monkeypox produces large lesions that an infected person can quickly recognize.
“You know when you have it,” he said. “And you can easily see it when the lights are on. I’m not one to pour cold water on romance, but there’s something to be said for seeing if (your partner) has bruises.”
Deven so While the possibility of bisexual men spreading to the general population, other diseases that primarily affect the LGBTQ community haven’t made much of a leap, Rutherford said. HIV, for example, still disproportionately affects LGBTQ people, while disproportionate cases of the virus come primarily from drug use.
However, both epidemiologists Lee and Rutherford emphasized that monkeypox was not being spread exclusively by homosexuals. He said that anyone can be affected.
“There’s nothing magical about men having sex with men. It’s just the population that was first affected in this current epidemic,” Rutherford said. He pointed out that in the past, outbreaks have affected all kinds of people. For example, a The monkey pox epidemic occurred in 2003. In six states when individuals were touching prairie dogs that were close to mammals imported from Africa. In this instance, the LGBTQ community was not included.
Some scientists, meaWhereas, focusing more on determining how Monkey pox is prevalent in the Bay Area as a whole.
Researchers at Stanford’s Sewer Corona Virus Alert Network, which has traditionally been used to quantify the amount of COVID and other viruses in Bay Area wastewater, began measuring monkeypox in mid-June. .
Dr. Marlene Wolff, who is on the Stanford team, said their wastewater data show major monkeypox virus hotspots in San Francisco and to a lesser extent in the rest of the Bay Area — with an overall increasing trend.
“We have seen, in general, increased detection rates and more days we have a positive sample (of monkeypox),” he said. “And overall, greater concentration over time across the region.”
Wolff said his team should soon be able to determine how many monkey cases there are in the region based on the wastewater data they’re collecting.