Data show racial disparities in Louisiana monkeypox cases

By: - August 18, 2022 7:49 pm

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Health officials have examined demographic data on monkeypox cases in Louisiana and found six in every 10 cases have occurred among Black people. More than a quarter of diagnoses have been white, and 95% are male.

As of Wednesday, 127 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in Louisiana since the first person was diagnosed July 7.

Cases have been identified in six of Louisiana’s nine public health regions, with the vast majority in southeast Louisiana. Nearly 1,000 people have been vaccinated against monkeypox at community vaccination events held at LGBTQ bars in New Orleans.

“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,” State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said in a statement. “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.”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data suggest gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men account for the majority of monkeypox cases.  Health officials warn that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has requested and received assistance from the CDC ahead of Southern Decadence, an annual six-day annual gay and lesbian celebration in New Orleans the coincides with Labor Day weekend. A team specializing in vaccines, communications, behavioral science, epidemiology and logistics has been sent to the city and is working closely with LDH and New Orleans health officials.

A demographic breakdown of Louisiana’s monkeypox cases is available on an LDH dashboard. In addition to gender and race, the information includes age and ethnicity.

People most commonly get monkeypox through close and sustained skin-to-skin contact, 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 (clothing, bedding, or towels) and surfaces someone with monkeypox has used.

CDC data also showed the national monkeypox outbreak is disproportionately affecting minorities in America. Data from 43 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico show that Black people make up 12% of the population but 26% of all monkeypox cases. Hispanic people accounted for 19% of the population and 28% of all cases.

Monkeypox cases reported between May 17 and July 22 comprised the CDC data.

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Louisiana Illuminator
Louisiana Illuminator

The Louisiana Illuminator is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization driven by its mission to cast light on how decisions are made in Baton Rouge and how they affect the lives of everyday Louisianians, particularly those who are poor or otherwise marginalized.

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