Monkeypox cases reported within D.C.'s homeless community

More than 250 cases of monkeypox have been reported across the District, according to the CDC.

Now it has reached the homeless community.

D.C. Health officials confirmed two cases of monkeypox have been reported within the city's homeless population.

One shelter FOX 5 spoke to says the spread of this disease among this community is cause for concern.

"Honestly our reaction was ‘oh boy here we go again,’" said Central Union Mission President and CEO Joe Mettimano.

Central Union Mission serves the homeless community of D.C. and says an outbreak of monkeypox, coupled with COVID is a recipe for disaster.

"When we start to see it happening at that very small level within the homeless community, it typically blows up pretty fast within the shelters," Mettimano said. "Again, because this is a communal sleeping environment, there’s a lot of close contact here whether people are eating meals together or sleeping in the same room. So, it certainly raises our sense of alert." 

To limit case numbers within the shelter, the CEO says it will stay on top of its COVID protocols and implement screening procedures for monkeypox.

"To the extent we’re able without invading a person’s privacy is watching for the sores that typically are present, blisters so to speak…," said Mettimano.

 "As soon as we see anything like that our protocol is to get them out of the shelter and evaluated by a medical professional right away."

READ MORE: Monkeypox vaccine sign-ups now available in parts of Maryland

Now that the disease has been confirmed within the homeless population of DC, he says those experiencing homelessness should be prioritized for vaccination.

"So many people on the street have compromised immune systems, many of them have preexisting significant health issues. This type of disease, things like monkey pox, things like COVID 19, even the flu tend to be even more deadly and more destructive to the folks that we serve."

FOX5 did reach out to D.C’s Department of Health to see where those who are homeless and have been exposed to monkey pox can go, as well as several other questions but they did not respond.

The mayor’s office did put out out a tweet that walk-up vaccines will be available for those that are eligible starting Friday at several D.C monkeypox vaccination clinics.

They are first come, first serve and each site will have about 300 doses available.