It’s been over a month since the first monkeypox case was diagnosed in Florida.

Since that first case in Broward County in late May, cases have risen to 105 in the state.

As of July 10, Broward had 67 of those cases; the most of any county in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. Miami-Dade had 18 cases; Orange and Pinellas Counties each had five; Palm Beach County had four; Polk County had two; and Collier, Lake, Santa Rosa, and Seminole Counties each had one.

Concerns have been brewing in the local and international LGBT community about the rise in monkeypox cases and its contagiousness. Global health experts raised concerns back in May when cases began popping up in Europe and North America as the virus is rarely reported outside of the African continent.

The fatality rate sits around 10% and the risk of exposure is relatively low, since an infected person needs to be in close, prolonged face-to-face contact with others for someone else to get it, the Florida Department of Health said.

Still, concerns are heightened among the gay and bisexual male community. This recent flare up in cases is suspected to stem from a same-sex couple who contracted the virus in Nigeria and spread it at two parties in Spain and Belgium earlier this year, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed the World Health Organization’s emergency department, told the Associated Press.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” Heymann said back in May.

Michael Rajner, a community activist from Wilton Manors, said he hasn’t been going out as much as he did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said he is worried for his friends and neighbors.

“I think for the LGBTQ community, I’m incredibly concerned over this,” he said. “We’re a very sex-positive community and reading where they’re seeing a prevalence of incidents, it is worrisome that it’s largely affecting gay men at this moment, although not restricted to that population.”

Those concerns appear to be reflected in a vaccine drive being hosted this week by the Florida Department of Health in partnership with the Pride Center in Wilton Manors. The event will stretch from July 12 to July 16, but appointments filled up early.

A spokesman for the Pride Center confirmed Monday that those appointments were fully booked, but said once more vaccines are available, they’ll be hosting more events like it.

Rajner said he made an appointment to get a vaccine at the Pride Center, but is worried they’ll run out before he can be seen.

“I believe it’s very important to speak to your physician to see if the vaccine is right for you or if you’re a candidate for it,” he said. “So I texted my doctor and he did say, ‘Yes, go for it. Get it,’ and so I did. But I don’t think there’s a guarantee I’m going to get it. I think there is a chance they might run out because they have a limited supply.”

As of late June, all the cases in South Florida, aside from one, were among gay or bi men. Dr. John Brooks of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said clusters of patients are popping up around the world, and seem to be disproportionately affecting gay and bisexual men.

Experts say you should inspect your sexual partner, or partners, for signs of a rash, including places that aren’t easily visible, like the genital area and rectum. The World Health Organization is also finding monkeypox in semen, so condoms are recommended.

People who have had the smallpox vaccine are protected against monkeypox, but most people under 50 years old likely didn’t get that vaccine as a kid.

If you suspect you have been infected with monkeypox, contact your doctor immediately or call the Florida Department of Health at 954-467-4700 or 850-245-4444.

Check here for info on vaccine availability.


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