Mpox cases increase in LA County; health officials advise at-risk residents to take precautions

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
Mpox cases increase in LA County, prompting warning from officials
Los Angeles County health officials reported a "concerning increase" of 10 new cases of mpox in the past two weeks, up from a countywide average of less than two cases per week.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported a "concerning increase" of 10 new cases of mpox in the past two weeks, up from a countywide average of less than two cases per week the preceding several weeks.

Health officials are strongly recommending that at-risk residents take action.

Early signs can feel like the flu, but a new, unexplained rash is when most people start to realize this could be mpox, formerly known as monkeypox. Now health officials are seeing an uptick.

"We had four cases about two weeks ago, and then six cases last week," said Dr. Sonali Kulkarni, director of the HIV and STD programs at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "And so to us that's a sign that we are entering the summer season where people are more social and sexually active."

The county typically tracks about one or two cases per week. Mpox is mainly spread through close contact with bodily fluids, sores, shared bedding or respiratory droplets transmitted through kissing, coughing or sneezing and even skin to skin contact.

"Potentially wearing more clothing like at dance clubs and parties, just cause it can spread even just from really close physical contact. And some folks have early mpox and they don't know it. And so they're not willingly spreading it, but they, unwillingly or unknowingly are spreading it.

Given the recent increase in cases, the Department of Public Health recommends that anyone who develops unusual sores that look like pimples or blisters, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches or swelling of lymph nodes get tested.

Kulkarni said the mpox virus doesn't mutate as quickly as the flu or COVID, so the same two-shot vaccine series remains effective. At-risk groups include men who have sex with other men.

"Folks of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial or transactional sex work," she said.

And those living with HIV.

To find out more about where to get a vaccine, go to or you can go to any of the 10 sexual health clinics located at public health centers across the county. You can also find a mobile vaccine team at various Pride events this month.