The number of monkeypox cases detected in San Diego County increased by seven Friday, hitting 27 total confirmed and suspected cases, according to a weekly update from the county health department.
Compared to what has been under way in other large California cities, the impact of the viral illness in San Diego remains small. By comparison, Los Angeles and San Francisco hit 306 and 305 cases, respectively, in their latest updates posted Friday afternoon.
San Francisco recently declared a state of public emergency as cases have continued to increase rapidly with New York state declaring the virus an “imminent threat” to public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 79 countries now have active monkeypox outbreaks.
California now has 800 confirmed and probable cases out of more than 4,900 identified nationwide.
Vaccine supply has not been able to keep up with demand, with members of the LGBTQ community, which has been disproportionately affected by the increase in cases, upset with what has been called a slow response.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, has urged the state to declare an emergency, which would provide greater flexibility around testing and vaccinations. But he also said Friday that state leaders have acted with an appropriate sense of urgency.
“At this point, I think local, state, federal, we’re all rowing in the same direction. We just all need to row faster because we have a limited window of time to control this outbreak,” he said.
Determined to stay ahead of the trend, the county health department conducted its second vaccination clinic this week and also launched a new communications system that will send real-time information updates to anyone who is interested by text message.
To sign up for the system, text COSD MONKEYPOX to 468-311.
Dr. Cameron Kaiser, deputy public health officer for the county health department, said the system is an attempt to open direct lines of communication to those who are at the greatest risk of infection.
Acknowledging that anyone who comes into contact with the distinctive pox that the virus causes is at risk of infection, Kaiser said the local public health effort must focus on protecting those currently experiencing the greatest effects and right now that is the LGBTQ community.
“As we’ve been saying all along, we don’t want to stigmatize a particular population, but this population, right now, is the one that’s disproportionately affected, and we want to make sure that we reach out to them in all the ways that we possibly can,” Kaiser said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.