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Morning Brief: Monkeypox, Rent Hikes, LAX Explained

A person with a blue glove holds a vial.
A medical laboratory technician shows a suspected monkeypox sample at a microbiology laboratory.
(Pablo Blazquez Dominguez
Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, July 19

You might think you have just a rash, but did you know it could be a viral infection?

Today, we’re going to talk about something that needs a little bit more attention: monkeypox.

I’m sure you’ve heard about this virus in passing, maybe even on Twitter.

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A little less than two weeks ago, there were more than 50 probable or confirmed monkeypox cases in Los Angeles County. Now there are more than 100.

While cases are increasing, something else is happening, too: it’s putting the LGBTQ+ community under the microscope. The monkeypox outbreak is mostly affecting men who have sex with men, but it isn’t a “gay disease,” nor is it a sexually transmitted disease. Some experts want to avoid repeating history by reducing harmful framing of the viral infection.

Dr. David Herman, the medical director of primary care at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, says that a lot of the focus on the LGBT community brings back memories of the homophobic stigmas and taboos during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Herman doesn’t want to see a repeat of that era in American history. 

“A lot of the communication that’s been out there unfortunately has really focused on the community that’s being affected, rather than the reality of the virus, which can affect anyone,” Herman says. “They deserve to be treated respectfully.”

While you can get monkeypox through any kind of intimate, sexual contact, the virus in general spreads through respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.  You can also get monkeypox through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids or by touching items or surfaces that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids. Pregnant people can also spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

In addition to causing the outward physical symptoms, the virus is causing other problems for people, Herman says. For instance, some people may not have disclosed their sexuality or sexual orientation to the public.

“People may not always be out to colleagues, they may not always be out to family members, they may not always be out in their social circles,” Herman says. “There’s a lot of stuff from a social standpoint that makes me very uncomfortable about the dialogue around this, because this is an illness just like anything else is an illness.”

Here are some symptoms Herman says you should look out for: 

  • Fever 
  • Lymph node enlargements, various places specifically at or around the neck or underneath the jaw, underneath the arms or in the groin. 
  • Muscle aches and fatigue or a generalized feeling unwell. 

He says these symptoms can last about 1-2 days before rashes develop. The rash can be located in the genital or periodontal area but can spread anywhere on the body.
So…what should you do if you think you have monkeypox? 

  1. Cover up your lesions when you go to your medical provider. Herman says that if you need to be around people in order to go to a clinic or your doctor, do the best you can to cover up your lesions. Let someone know at the front desk of the medical center that you are concerned you might have monkeypox so that your medical provider can take the appropriate steps to protect themselves and their staff. 
  2. Communicate with friends and family if there was potential exposure. 
  3. See if you can get a post exposure vaccination if you don’t have symptoms. Contact your health provider because you could be a candidate for a vaccine. Do this as quickly as you can — the first couple of days after you’ve found out you have an exposure. Vaccinations are limited, but people who have been identified as high risk or higher risk individuals have a priority.
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My colleague Jackie Fortiér reports that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is working to expand the testing capacity to ensure people know whether or not they have monkeypox instead of just a rash (or fever, or muscle ache or another symptom associated with this viral infection). Read her story for tips on how to get tested.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • If your rent went up this year, you’re not the only one. L.A. tenants are seeing some of the largest rent hikes in years — as high as 10% in some cases. Local laws that are designed to protect them from this allow for one exception: rent increases due to inflation.
  • Megan Tan, host of the LAist Studios podcast Snooze, wrote about trying to connect with her roots to understand her father better. In the final episode, she takes you along on her journey as she becomes her father’s caretaker.
  • A new lawsuit filed in California claims that the ingredient that gives Skittles their bright color is actually “unfit for human consumption.”
  • You may have heard, but across the U.S. and in parts of Europe, people are experiencing record high heat waves. The warming trend will continue here for the next few days, so expect some areas to see triple-digit temperatures.
  • The Senate is nearing a deal on a farm-related immigration bill. Farmers say it could help them hire more workers — and lower food prices.

Before You Go...LAX Explained: Our Guide To Navigating The West Coast's Most Infuriating Airport

LAX guide takeoff.jpg
(Alborz Kamalizad

Every Tuesday, I bring you an intriguing enterprise or investigative L.A.-centric story that I’ve found. Today, my colleague Caitlin Hernández wants to take you on a trip to LAX (don’t worry, this journey will be painless, I promise!). 

Summer is here, and it is time to travel to our favorite destinations. For many of us, that means navigating our least favorite airport. But have you ever wondered why L.A.’s airport is as stressful and infuriating as it is? Well, Caitlin tracked down some answers, from how it got so bad, to where it’s headed, to some useful travel hacks. One thing I learned from Caitlin’s story that I found really fascinating was the history of that quirky UFO building in the center of the international airport. I’ve always wondered what it actually was and if there were aliens inside there making sure we landed safely in this crazy city. Read Caitlin’s article, which was just published today, and let us know what you think!

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