Re: LGBTQIA+ Monkeypox spreading locally in gay, bisexual community, top health official says

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Aug 17, 2022, 10:20:03 PMAug 17
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The number of monkeypox cases is rising locally mostly among gay
and bisexual men, the county’s top public health official said.

“What we’re seeing around the country — and what we’re starting
to see in Galveston County — is primarily men who have sex with
men and who have had partners in the last couple weeks with
painful skin lesions or a fever and blisters,” Dr. Philip
Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority, said.

“We need to get the word out to those individuals that you need
to be careful.”

Getting that message to the people most at risk supersedes worry
about stigmatizing the gay and bisexual community, he said.

“It’s a challenge in how we talk about it,” Keiser said. “There
are people saying we have to be very careful about stigmatizing
the gay community.

“But hearing from physicians who identify as gay and the gay
community, they’ve been critical that public health at large has
not been explicit enough.

“People are concerned about the stigmas to the gay community,
but my experience is that people would just prefer you to be
direct.”

People who have HIV are more likely to contract monkeypox but
they haven’t been getting sicker than people who are not HIV
positive, Keiser said.

Although gay and bisexual men have been most at risk, infections
can happen among people outside those groups, Keiser warned.

Monkeypox spreads through close contact with an infected animal
or through direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids or
indirect contact with contaminated clothing or linens, according
to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

“We saw an individual yesterday who has a roommate,” Keiser
said. “They don’t have any intimate relationships, but the
roommate does the laundry.

“We looked at the lesions and we really think it could be
monkeypox. Dirty bed sheets, or dirty clothes can also transfer
it as well.”

Asked whether any women in Galveston County have contracted the
disease, Keiser responded: “We have seen at least one person
that doesn’t fall into the traditional risk group.”

The health district has declined to disclose genders of any of
the five possible cases identified in Galveston County, citing
fear identifying the infected people.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-
like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research.
Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease
remains unknown, according to the CDC.

“The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970,”
according to the CDC.

“Prior to the 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in
people in several African countries. Almost all monkeypox cases
in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel
to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through
imported animals.”

The first probable case was announced on July 20 in Galveston
County. The unidentified man was an out-of-state resident and it
took the CDC weeks to confirm the diagnosis.

“As of now, there are three county residents and two non county
residents that we are confident have monkeypox, but we haven’t
gotten the final results back yet,” Keiser said. “That being
said, we have several other cases where tests have been sent
off.”

Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and
backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash
that might look like pimples or blisters that appear on the
face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body like
hands, feet and chest.

Some people might develop a rash first, followed by other
symptoms. Others experience only a rash.

Although blisters, rashes, and skin lesions might be the classic
symptom of monkeypox, that doesn’t always mean a person has
contracted the viral disease so it’s crucial to test, Keiser
said.

“There are other things that can give you blisters,” Keiser
said. “We have to see the lesion then basically break the
blister and rub it really hard with a swab. Once we get that
swab, we have to send it to a lab in Houston.”

The Houston Health Department Laboratory Response Network will
conduct a screening test, he said. If the lab deems the sample
test to be presumptively positive, it sends the sample to the
CDC to perform a more specific test to determine whether it is
indeed monkeypox, Keiser said.

The county already has received a shipment of vaccine and
expects to receive another next week, Keiser said. The vaccines
are being reserved for high risk groups and those who come in
close contact with the infected, such as medical staff, he said.

The vaccines are effective almost immediately, but require a
booster to work long term, Keiser said.

“If we can vaccinate you within the first four days of exposure,
that will prevent you from getting monkeypox in about 85 percent
of the cases.” Keiser said.

“Fortunately, we know how to run a mass vaccine campaign now.”

As of Friday, there were 815 cases of monkeypox in Texas; 11,177
cases nationwide.

José Mendiola: 409-683-5230 or jose.m...@galvnews.com

https://www.galvnews.com/article_799c1794-38eb-5a58-a349-
640da55695d2.html

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