Riverside County’s Public Health Department is working to provide vaccines to protect those most at risk for monkeypox infection, the director of disease control said Tuesday.
Barbara Cole said the county has requested vaccines from the California Department of Public Health and Cole hopes they will arrive in the next few weeks. In addition to possibly preventing monkeypox, the vaccine can also reduce symptoms in people who have been exposed.
At least 61 probable and confirmed cases have been reported in California and at least one probable case in Riverside County. A total of three Riverside County residents have been tested for monkeypox, Cole said.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is commonly found in Central and West Africa and does not occur naturally in the United States, but recent national cases have been detected due to international travel or animals imported from areas where the disease is more common.
People usually become infected through close contact with skin lesions or body fluids of infected animals or humans (living or dead), including droplets, and can also be spread through sexual contact. Those most at risk for monkeypox are gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, but the virus can infect anyone.
Symptoms may appear five to 21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, rash, and lesions, often in the genital and perianal areas. The disease usually lasts two to four weeks. According to the CDC, monkeypox is fatal in about 11% of people who become infected.
Once the vaccines become available in Riverside County, and if anyone is confirmed to be potentially exposed, he will receive the Jynneos vaccine after exposure, Cole said. They will have a number of options to choose from to get their photos:
- If they want to be vaccinated with their healthcare provider, Riverside County Public Health will be able to receive the vaccine from that provider within one day. If necessary, the department will provide information about the vaccine and how to administer it.
- People will be referred to the Riverside University Health System for vaccination.
- A “response team” will come out and administer vaccines.
The Jynneos vaccine, approved in 2019 by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox in people aged 18 and over, requires two doses four weeks apart. The CDC is also investigating a measure that would allow the vaccine to be used in children.
The vaccine can be used after exposure to help prevent serious illness.
Cole said the department will work with health care providers who serve people at increased risk for monkeypox. Depending on the receipt of the vaccine, the department will determine which providers will have vaccines available.
“It’s not for everyone,” she said of the vaccine before exposure. “We will look at the people with the highest risk of infection and that will be the goal.
Palm Springs-based DAP Health, a health center that primarily helps people with HIV or AIDS, has requested vaccines, senior marketing manager Dustin Gruber said in an email. When vaccines become available, “our understanding is … DAP Health can be a partner site for RUHS-Public Health,” Gruber added.
He added that DAP Health had not seen any confirmed exposures or illnesses as of Tuesday.
“Dr. Shubha Kerkar, Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health, is at the forefront of staff training and supporting appropriate communication for patients and the community. As with any potential outbreak, we focus on community education and a thorough assessment of each person emerging with symptoms that could indicate monkeypox or that indicate they have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case, “Gruber said. We maintain vigilance to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff, and provide education to all clinical staff to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information.
One doctor says Riverside County “stands behind the eighth”
However, some believe the county’s response comes too late.
Dr. Phyllis Richie,, a board-certified infectious disease specialist and CEO / founder of PS Test, said a local patient came to her STI clinic last week after being notified by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that he could were exposed to monkeypox at a recent Pride Event in Los Angeles.
The individual had no lesions, but had flu-like symptoms, such as a sore throat and pain, Richie said.
She called Riverside County Public Health, expecting staff to provide the individual with a vaccine after exposure. However, Richie said the department did not have vaccines and advised the person to go to Los Angeles County.
“It’s unfortunate that Riverside County is behind the eighth,” Richie said, especially given the large LGBTQ + population in the Coachella Valley. “Because Palm Springs is the hub for this particular population, Riverside County really needs to be a step forward, especially since COVID-19 was something everyone had to play with. We had to learn from COVID. “
Ritchie believes that “probably everyone at this festival of pride was a potential revelation” and that there are “many more (cases) in our area that have not been seen or diagnosed.”
She said she was disappointed that the county had not taken faster action, such as providing vaccines earlier and providing them in the Coachella Valley. Ritchie said she had offered to partner with the local public health department and implement the vaccine in the PS Test, but had not yet received a definite answer.
The infectious disease specialist would also like to see better guidance and education available to providers and patients.
“I know this mostly from infectious disease magazines, but if a patient has measles-like lesions, you send them home and tell them to wait until they are cured,” she said. “But we really weren’t given guidelines on how to test, phone numbers to call.”
Cole said: “We were responsive and since we received information, it was shared.” For example, she said the health department contacted medical providers in May and issued a public health council with recommendations for testing, controlling infections and considering treatment. A page with frequently asked questions about monkeypox is also available to the public.
Before vaccines were provided in the county, Cole said anyone who believed they had been exposed to monkeypox should contact their health care provider. They will perform an assessment to determine if a person should be tested for the virus, report to Riverside County Public Health, and then coordinate the next steps with the health department. The nearest monkey test lab is in San Bernardino County, she said.
As of Tuesday, there were at least 305 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States. The virus has been reported worldwide in at least 49 countries.
Global distribution of vaccines
Other states and states are working to provide vaccinations for those at high risk of infection.
New York’s health department and hospitals are administering vaccines to those who suspect they have come in contact with someone with monkeypox. Last week, the department opened a vaccine clinic that qualifies for all gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past two weeks.
In the United Kingdom, where Britain has the largest outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa, vaccines are now being considered for those at highest risk. A study of those infected in the United Kingdom found that 96% of men were gay, bisexual or had sex with other men.
The CDC also recommends vaccinations for lab and medical staff – and anyone else – who may be exposed to monkeypox.
The United States has 100 million doses of the ACAM2000 measles vaccine, the CDC said. Studies from Africa show that the vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, the agency said.
However, the vaccine, which is delivered by multiple punctures of a forked or forked needle rather than a shot, may have some side effects, according to the FDA, including inflammation and swelling of the heart and surrounding tissues, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and spread of the virus to the rest of the body or to others with whom they come into contact.
The vaccine is not made from the smallpox virus, but from a smallpox-like poxvirus.
Vaccines against monkeypox and smallpox, when given within four days of the date of exposure, according to the CDC, can prevent the onset of the disease – and are likely to reduce symptoms if given up to two weeks after exposure.
What is the Jynneos vaccine?
The Jynneos vaccine is considered safer than the alternatives because it is made from a virus that is associated with smallpox and monkeypox, but is less harmful. Studies leading to his approval found that Jynneos produced an immune response similar to that of the smallpox vaccine. Studies show that the vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, according to the Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo have found that none of the 1,600 vaccinated health workers have developed monkeypox in two years, according to the journal Science. However, the study did not include a control group and one person received monkeypox after the study period.
The Ministry of Health and Human Services, within its strategic national reserve, has more than 36,000 Jynneos courses and expects to receive another 500,000 in total delivered this year, according to the CDC.
USA Today contributed to this report.
Emma Sasic reflects on the fun and health in the Coachella Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.