By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO D.C. Editor
District of Columbia officials reported the highest number of monkeypox cases per capita in the United States this week. The news comes as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and District officials are still grappling with the roll out of testing and vaccination for the virus.
At a press conference on July 18, Mayor Muriel Bowser and outgoing DC Public Health Public Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt met with the media to provide details on the City’s response to the outbreak.
This week, District Health Officials reported 122 reported cases, with more than 530 close contacts since the District’s first reported case on June 4.
The current caseload primarily affects the LGBTQ+ community, but Nesbitt warned District residents the virus could strike anyone.
Roughly 82 percent of cases are in persons who self-identified as gay and 96% of cases in males in the District, according to D.C. Public Health data.
“This is extremely important that we do not create stigma at this time, and that we encourage individuals to be on the lookout for symptoms,” Nesbitt said.
According to the CDC website, the virus spreads primarily through the following means:
- direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
- respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
- pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
Bowser and Nesbitt urged D.C. residents to get vaccinated for the monkeypox virus. Right now, D.C. residents must currently pre-register for the vaccination because the District only has 8,300 doses. More than 2,600 doses have already been given.
Bowser said the District needs 100,000 doses to meet the demand. Currently, there are only two vaccination sites open from Friday-Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 pm.
Bowser expects an increased number of reported cases as more people get tested.
The D.C. Public Health Department described the symptoms of monkeypox on their website.
“Initial symptoms of monkeypox often include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes followed by a rash and lesions on the skin. The rash can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus,” according to the site.
“The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks and requires isolation until the lesions/rash scab over, the scabs fall off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.”
Additional information for D.C. residents about monkeypox transmission, prevention, and symptoms is here: 2022-DCH-OneSheet-MonkeyPox-ENG.pdf – 197.5 KB (pdf)
Pre-register here for the monkeypox vaccine: https://v51r5a21s.dc.gov/en-US/mp-attest/
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