The California Department of Public Health says the risk of monkeypox in the state is low, but health officials across the state are urging people to take precautions to avoid outbreaks.
Monkeypox is a viral disease related to smallpox. It has gotten increasing attention across the United States since cases began popping up across the country. There are currently 434 confirmed cases in California, Mendocino County Health Officer Andrew Coren said in a press release Friday. As of the Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting, there are no reported or confirmed cases of monkeypox in Mendocino County.
But health officials are asking for vigilance if individuals begin to experience symptoms in order to curb community spread of the virus that is transmittable to anyone of any age or gender. Monkeypox may start with flu-like symptoms including fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches, but in about one to three days individuals will develop painful rashes or sores, according to the county health department’s press release.
The sores will go through several stages before scabbing and falling off. Health officials say individuals who contracted monkeypox must isolate themselves at home until the sores have fallen off and new skin has formed. The lesions usually persist for about three weeks, according to the health department.
Monkeypox is transmittable through close contact with an infected person or with an infected person’s bed linens, clothing items, or towels. It can also be transmitted through close physical contact such kissing, hugging, or sex. The monkeypox incubation period is about 12 days, Coren said.
Two vaccines for monkeypox are available in the U.S. and are effective if administered just before or a few days after infection. The federal government allocated a small number of doses of one monkeypox vaccine to the state, according to the health department. It’s unclear how many doses were allocated.
The county health department urged anyone considered high-risk of monkeypox infection to get vaccinated against the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years old, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding at higher risk of serious illness or death. About 99% of people who contract the form of monkeypox that is driving infection rates in the U.S. will survive, according to the CDC.
The first few cases of monkeypox were detected in the U.S. in late May, according to the CDC, but recently health officials have sounded alarm bells as case numbers begin to rise. On June 23, the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. On Thursday, the mayor of San Francisco declared a state of emergency over the growing number of monkeypox cases in the city.
If you have monkeypox symptoms, a new unexplained rash, or have been exposed to someone with a known case, you should seek medical care. Call a clinic to discuss your symptoms and set up an appointment.