San Diego County monkeypox response must be strong, nuanced

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Monkeypox — a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus normally found only in Africa — is generating headlines around the world because of cases turning up in unusual places, including nearly 1,000 in the U.S. and more than 6,000 worldwide. This has led to concerns the U.S. government isn’t doing all that it should to distribute the hundreds of thousands of vaccinations and other effective treatments it already has in hand. County health officials made just 600 vaccines available this week, by appointment only, for “people at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox, especially gay, bisexual and transgender persons and other men who have sex with men” and “people who participate in circuit/rave parties and Pride festivities.” The World Health Organization stresses the disease is not limited to men who have sex with men and anyone in close contact with someone with the disease is at risk.

Monkeypox differs from its distant, lethal relative smallpox — usually only causing rashes, blisters and flu-like symptoms that go away on their own. With just six local cases reported, its threat must be kept in proportion. Since it is generally spread by close physical contact, not just intimacy, a balance is needed that keeps a community safe without stigmatizing anyone in it. And ample vaccines are key.

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