SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is hosting a town hall to discuss the spread of the monkeypox virus in the city tonight at 5 p.m.
The town hall, which is accessible by the phone number 833-261-6164, will feature experts on the virus and the health response, including San Francisco Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Tyler TerMeer, and University of California, San Francisco professor Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.
Pelosi touted the town hall in a recorded robocall to San Francisco residents Monday.
“In San Francisco, we are already seeing monkeypox inflict serious harm — particularly, taking a disproportionate toll on our LGBTQ family, friends and neighbors,” Pelosi stated in an earlier press release. “As we learned from the COVID crisis, we must act swiftly and decisively to get ahead and stay ahead of this virus.”
The latest numbers show that there are 563 diagnosed monkeypox cases in the city, and 1,945 statewide. While demand for the vaccine has been high among gay and bisexual men, who are disproportionately affected by cases, supply has been low, and state and local officials have pointed the finger at the federal government, which has been dogged by reports it took too long to take the virus seriously.
In recent weeks, San Francisco has been receiving more vaccine doses from the state and federal governments, and the vaccine clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital expanded its hours.
KRON4 reached out to the San Francisco Department of Public Health to ask how many vaccine doses it has administered and how much it still has, but DPH did not immediately respond.
KRON ON is streaming live
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox include onset of flu-like symptoms and distinctive rashes or sores that could look like pimples or blisters. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show the most commonly-reported symptoms are rash (99%), malaise (70%) and fever (64%).
The CDC stated August 6 that the most common places where rashes have been reported in this outbreak are genitals (46% of cases), arms (40%), face (38%) and legs (37%).
While the red, flat spots which become bumps can be anywhere on the body, they are most likely in the current outbreak to affect the genital or rectal areas, or the fingers, mouth or eyes. The spots become bumps, which break and crust over into a scab. They may be itchy, but not necessarily.
Further, some people only get one or some of these symptoms; it is possible to have a fever but never a rash, or have these symptoms sequentially and not concurrently.
What is the monkeypox vaccine?
The monkeypox virus is in the orthopoxvirus family alongside smallpox, for which routine vaccination in the U.S. ended in 1972 after the disease was declared eradicated here. Jynneos, a vaccine approved for both smallpox and monkeypox, is at least 85% effective against monkeypox, though its effectiveness reduces over time.
Getting the vaccine within 14 days of exposure can prevent or mitigate disease risk, as the incubation period can be weeks.
Healthcare providers should test for other infections with similar symptoms, such as syphilis. Tests for monkeypox are confirmed at specialized labs.
Side-effects of the vaccine could include redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, headache, fatigue and nausea.
Who can get a monkeypox infection?
According to CDC statistics released August 6, 99% of cases were in men, and 94% of cases were in men who reported having sex with men. Among those cases, the majority had reported multiple sexual partners in the prior three weeks. A total of ten U.S. cases have been reported in women, according to the CDC, and as of August 3 two pediatric cases have been confirmed. The virus is spread through close skin-on-skin contact and an adviser on sexually transmitted infections with the World Health Organization stated experts have not determined whether it is a sexually transmitted infection per se, though it is “clearly transmitted during sex.”
However, Noel Sanchez of SFDPH cautioned that anyone could become infected with the monkeypox virus, and that it doesn’t necessarily require sexual contact to contract it.
“SFDPH takes monkeypox seriously,” Sanchez stated. “While most cases resolve on their own without pills or treatment, monkeypox can be serious. We are trying to contain outbreaks and reduce transmission to avoid the virus spreading to more people and potentially becoming endemic. To that end, we are doing education and outreach to communities most at risk; tracking monkeypox cases; distributing and administering vaccines as a preventative measure to people at high risk because of an exposure; and supporting testing and clinical guidance to providers, among other efforts.”
Sanchez advises people to cover exposed skin in crowds, avoid sharing bedding and clothing, talk with close physical and sexual contacts about health, rashes and sores, and be aware of symptoms.