Healthcare

DC has highest number of monkeypox cases nationally per capita

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and District of Columbia Department of Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt hold a press conference in 2021.
Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and District of Columbia Department of Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt hold a press conference in 2021.

The nation’s capital has the highest number of monkeypox cases per capita, with 122 confirmed cases as of Sunday, health officials reported on Monday.

According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from Friday, this puts Washington behind only New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Florida for total case count, despite its smaller population. Those states have 489, 266, 174 and 154 cases, respectively.

D.C.’s first monkeypox case was reported in early June. 

The city has approximately 8,300 applicable vaccine doses on hand, with about 2,600 of those already administered, according to a Monday release

On Sunday, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said the District would need 100,000 total doses to meet the demands of the current “target population.” 

D.C. has ramped up its testing, which the mayor says will likely lead to increasing case counts. Contract tracing has also identified more than 459 close contacts to cases so far, the city reported. 

Nationwide, the CDC has confirmed more than 1,800 monkeypox cases, and Reuters has reported more than 11,500 globally.

The Jynneos vaccine, which requires a two-dose regimen for full vaccination, is available by appointment at two designated D.C. vaccination sites.

The city also announced Monday that it will also distribute the antiviral Tpoxx, used for serious monkeypox illnesses, to local health centers.

Ninety-six percent of Washington cases have appeared in those who identify as male, and 82 percent in those who identify as gay, said LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the District of Columbia Department of Health.

Men who have sex with men are eligible for the vaccine, as are transgender women and nonbinary people who have sex with men, sex workers of any gender or orientation, and staff at “establishments where sexual activity occurs.”

Nesbitt emphasized, however, that the virus is not constrained to those populations. 

Monkeypox spreads through close face-to-face contact and direct contact with bodily fluids, sores or scabs of an infected person and may also be spread through respiratory secretions, according to the D.C. Health fact sheet

The White House has pledged to distribute nearly 300,000 monkeypox vaccines nationwide in the coming weeks and a combined 1.6 million in the coming months.

Tags dc health dc mayor monkeypox monkeypox outbreak monkeypox vaccine Muriel Bowser Muriel Bowser vaccine Virus

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