Now that the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has started reporting additional demographic data for monkeypox patients on the LDH monkeypox dashboard, striking racial disparities are clear.
Nearly 60 percent of monkeypox cases in Louisiana have occurred among Black Louisianans, and about 27 percent have occurred among White Louisianans. Among the cases included in today’s demographic analysis, about 95 percent have occurred in males.
The disproportionate impact of monkeypox cases on Black Louisianans follows a national pattern.
While Black and Hispanic Americans make up about a third of the U.S. population, they account for more than half of the cases.
Specifically, new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected from 43 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico between May 17 and July 22 show that Black people make up 12 percent of the population but 26 percent of all monkeypox cases, while Hispanic people accounted for 19 percent of the population and 28 percent of all cases.
While people most commonly get monkeypox through close and sustained skin-to-skin contact, including but not limited to intimate and sexual contact, the virus can also spread through contact with body fluids such as saliva or fluid from the lesions of infected individuals or by touching objects, fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
State health officials says Louisiana is ramping up its efforts to protect residents from the outbreak.
“We felt it was critical to release this analysis so we could shine a light on these disparities and the need for us all to do more,” said LDH State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “This requires a whole of Louisiana effort. Now that we have more vaccine supply, we will be able to do many more community vaccination events. This is a priority for the Department — we must do all we can to protect our at-risk residents and communities.”
While cases have been identified in six of Louisiana’s nine public health regions, the vast majority have been identified in southeast Louisiana. Nearly 1,000 people were vaccinated against monkeypox at initial community vaccination events LDH held at LGBTQ bars in New Orleans.
Additionally, LDH has formally requested and received approval for technical assistance from CDC ahead of Southern Decadence in New Orleans. A CDC team specializing in vaccines, communications, behavioral science, epidemiology and logistics has started remote deployment and is working closely with LDH and the New Orleans Health Department.
Jynneos, the monkeypox vaccine, requires two doses, and it takes 14 days after getting the second dose for the vaccine to reach maximum protection. People interested in receiving the vaccine can visit the LDH monkeypox webpage for information, including a list of locations in Louisiana that have received vaccine.
Individuals can can also call 211 to get their monkeypox questions answered.
Vaccinations are now available for:
- Gay, bisexual, other (cis or trans) men who have sex with men OR transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men AND have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners in last 14 days orHave had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue in the last 14 days;
- Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have given or received money or other goods/services in exchange for sex in the last 14 days.