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Who’s getting monkeypox in California? State releases first demographic breakdown

Sacramento Bee - 7/29/2022

The vast majority, but not all, of the nearly 800 Californians who have contracted monkeypox in the two months since the state’s outbreak began have been gay or bisexual men, and nearly three-quarters of them have been between ages 25 and 44.

That’s according to the state’s first public release of demographic data for the virus, posted Friday to the California Department of Public Health website and giving a breakdown of the 786 probable and confirmed cases reported through Thursday.

All but 17 of those cases identified as cisgender men, according to the state health department. Five were transgender men, three were cisgender women, three were transgender women and two were nonbinary. Gender information was not available for the remaining four.

Among the 554 cases with sexual orientation available, 92% were gay or lesbian, 6% bisexual and 2% heterosexual. Sexual orientation data was missing or unknown for more than 230 of the cases.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, director of CDPH and the state’s public health officer, during a call with reporters Friday said California is committed to “reducing stigma among the LGBTQ community, which has been singled out and treated unfairly because of this outbreak.”

“No single individual or community is to blame for the spread of any virus,” he said.

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but it has primarily affected gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender people, in the U.S. It spreads through close contact with other people or linens, like sheets and towels, that infected people have touched.

Of the 786 cases to date, only 11 have required hospitalization, according to CDPH, which is less than 2%. None have died.

By age, Californians between 35 and 44 years old have made up 38% of cases, followed closely by those 25 to 34 at 37%. Those between 45 and 54 years old accounted for another 5%, and ages 28 to 24 made up 4%.

Only 1.3% were 65 or older. One juvenile monkeypox case has been recorded in California to date.

About 45% of cases have been white, 36% Latino, 9% Black and 6% Asian, according to CDPH.

State health data show 261 cases among Los Angeles County residents and 257 among residents of San Francisco. The latter city on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

The Sacramento County public health office as of Friday had detected 43 monkeypox cases among county residents. The first case identified by Sacramento County, on May 24, was also California’s first.

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