First published in the Aug. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank Unified School District notified employees and families Monday of its first confirmed case of monkeypox.
Superintendent Matt Hill sent an email informing the community that a district employee was infected with the virus. He could not provide further information due to privacy laws but told the Leader that the individual affected was not near students
“There’s no exposure to students, and it was contained,” Hill said Thursday. “We performed a lot of deep cleaning to disinfect the area. … What I can say is that if an employee had contact with other employees or students, that’s when we notify those individuals directly. There wasn’t a need to notify a specific group of students.”
The health protocols for monkeypox, a viral disease that causes rashes as well as flu-like symptoms, are similar to those for COVID-19, and after the infected individual is isolated, the district then works with the Los Angeles County Health Department and perform contact tracing to determine if there were any close contacts.
“We have a close partnership with the [county] health department and are making sure that we’re being overly cautious because we don’t want anything to spread,” Hill said. “I would say the difference is that monkeypox does not spread as easily as COVID because it isn’t a respiratory virus, but we still take it very seriously.”
During a press briefing Thursday, local health officials reported that there have been 1,264 monkeypox cases and 47 infected individuals hospitalized in L.A. County.
Of the cases reported in L.A. County, 98% of them involved male individuals, 82% of the infected persons identified as LGBTQ+ and nearly half were in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles.
County officials expressed some optimism with cases reportedly leveling off as of late as the number of new cases per week taking longer to double.
“This may be an early indication that transmission is beginning to slow,” said Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the L.A. County Department of Public Health. “Similar trends are being noted in countries where the outbreak first began and in other jurisdictions throughout the United States.”
The White House announced last week that it has accelerated its response to the monkeypox outbreak and made 1.8 million doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine available Monday. County officials expect to receive as many as 120,000 doses from the federal government.