New Figures Show Monkeypox Disproportionately Affects Latino Community in San Francisco

Monkeypox BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of BELatina.

Whoever is the scriptwriter for this episode of humanity needs to take a break. After barely recovering from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization has declared the Monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

It is a zoonotic viral disease (transmitted from animals to humans), identified in several apes in a laboratory in 1958. However, as the United Nations website explains, most animals susceptible to contracting the disease and then infecting people are rodents.

Symptoms usually include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rash or lesions.

The rash usually begins within the first day or three of the onset of fever. The lesions may be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and then crust, dry, and fall off. The number of lesions on an individual varies from a few to several thousand. The rash tends to occur on the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. They can also be found in the mouth, genitals, and eyes.

Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been traced to 11 countries in Africa: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan.

Sporadic cases in non-endemic countries are from people who became infected while traveling to endemic countries. One outbreak was caused by contact with imported animals to people with whom they lived.

In May 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox were identified in several non-endemic countries. This is unusual for previous disease patterns.

There are currently 197 reported or suspected cases of monkeypox in San Francisco, for example, an increase of 56 patients from the same number reported less than a week ago.

According to local media, the most recent data on the spread of monkeypox shows that, although members of Latino communities represent about 15 percent of the SF population, more than 30 percent of all current monkeypox cases are within this group.

“For us, that is another alarm that is sounding in the community that we are responding to,” said Ivan Corado-Vega, Latino Task Force (LTF) manager, to ABC7.

Organizations like the LTF have put all their efforts into awareness and vaccination campaigns in underserved and at-risk communities in San Francisco against COVID.

“It feels like there’s less urgency and less communication compared to Covid-19,” Santiago Garzon, who works for the Instituto Familiar de la Raza, told Mission Local.

As Garzon explained, this is further evidence of poor communication when it comes to public health.

“We have a lot of people coming and asking us where we can get the vaccine,” Garzon said, noting that some of the people coming in are also sex workers or immunocompromised. “Not having enough information is one of the largest challenges we face.”