SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is calling upon the city and state governments to declare a state of emergency due to the monkeypox outbreak.

Wiener’s statement comes as San Francisco experiences one of the highest case rates in the United States, with 222 reported as of press time.

“Given that spread and that Monkeypox is now being detected in our sewage, we know that cases are high and will continue to grow. Monkeypox is painful and isolating, and no one should have to experience it,” Wiener stated. “Unfortunately, because our federal government failed to act quickly to acquire the vaccine supplies needed to prevent an outbreak, we are now in a public health emergency that is only going to escalate. Given that gay and bi men and trans people are the most impacted, it’s sadly becoming clear that we are being left behind once again.”

Wiener stated that a state of emergency declaration will “create significant flexibility around testing, contracting for services, and administration of vaccinations.”

“It will allow us to use all the resources in our power to contain the outbreak,” Wiener stated. “Right now, we don’t have enough vaccines or testing, and we need flexibility to expand access to both. We have no time to waste: this is happening now, it’s serious, and we need to do everything we can to contain it.”

There were 3,487 case of monkeypox in the U.S. as of Monday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California had the second-highest number of cases by state, with 356, after New York’s 990. CDC and San Francisco Department of Public Health statistics show the current outbreak is primarily affecting men who have sex with men; though at least 13 U.S. cases as of Monday have been diagnosed in people who were assigned female sex at birth. 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.”

Wiener, who used to represent the Castro neighborhood on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has been blasting the federal response to the outbreak for weeks, stating with Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) that the government is responsible for “public health failure,” and protesting for more vaccines outside the San Francisco office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As KRON4 reported yesterday, a vaccination clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital is closed pending the city being given further vaccines. The federal government did announce Wednesday that it’d signed off on 800,000 additional vaccine doses.

The WHO has declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern; the CDC stated the U.S. leads the world in cases.

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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. CDC statistics show the most common reported symptoms are rash (99%), malaise (70%) and fever (64%).

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?

While “many of the cases are occurring within networks of gay, bisexual, trans people, and men who have sex with men,” SF DPH spokesperson Noel Sanchez stated, anyone can become infected with the monkeypox virus.

“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
  • be aware of symptoms