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Sex, 'casual contact' and pimples: A guide to separating monkeypox facts from fiction

Grace Toohey, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"The rash doesn't look exactly the same on every person," L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said. That's why it's important to check yourself and get tested if anything looks irregular, she said.

Symptoms are usually mild, although lesions can become quite painful for some patients, Moore said. No one has died of monkeypox in California, but at least 14 people have been hospitalized for the illness.

Who can get a vaccine or treatment?

The two-dose Jynneos vaccine series, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for monkeypox, can be used preventatively and within two weeks of an exposure. But doses are currently limited, which has prompted health officials to set eligibility requirements so those at greatest risk of infection can get the first available shots.

In Los Angeles County, officials recently expanded eligibility, but the focus is still only on those who have been directly exposed or gay and bisexual men and transgender people who meet certain criteria, such as having multiple recent sex partners.

As for treatment, health experts say most patients can recover on their own, but there is one antiviral — tecovirimat, also known as Tpoxx — that can be administered to help ease symptoms. However, many health providers have had difficulty accessing Tpoxx, which is recommended only for use in severe cases or for people with certain high-risk health factors. CDC officials have said they are working to streamline the process so more people can get access to the drug.

 

As of this week, the California Public Health Department said 1,144 courses of TPOXX have been delivered and are ready for use at 71 sites around the state.

Can monkeypox spread asymptomatically?

"It does not, at this point, look like there's risk from asymptomatic spread," said Dr. Jay Gladstein, the chief medical officer for APLA Health, an L.A. group focused on providing healthcare to the LGBTQ community.

While this outbreak continues to be studied, Gladstein said transmission has so far been linked only to contact with virus-filled lesions.

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