Mendocino County health officials are ready to conduct contact tracing for monkeypox if cases are detected in the county.
There are still no reported cases of monkeypox in the county, but health officials have spent the last month working with health care providers so they are prepared in the case of an outbreak, County Health Officer Andy Coren said during a health update Friday.
“Please understand that it is still a very rare disease and certainly has not happened very significantly among children,” Coren said. “But what we do want to make sure that people understand is that if they do have the lesions, they are contagious.”
There are 2,660 cases of monkeypox in California — 614 are in San Francisco County and 34 are in Sonoma County, according to the California Department of Public Health. One case of monkeypox was reported in Humboldt County.
Mendocino County received 85 monkeypox vaccines to provide to those considered high-risk of infection, and has administered 35 in the county so far. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years old, people with a history of eczema, or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding at higher risk of serious illness or death. The vaccines are approved for people 18 years or older, and require specific single-person authorization from the Federal Drug Administration for people under 18 years of age.
Coren said people who may qualify for the vaccine should contact their primary health care provider to determine if and when they can receive a monkeypox vaccine. There is medication for patients with severe rash, but Mendocino County has not received the medication yet because there are very few doses.
The virus may start with flu-like symptoms including fever and swollen lymph nodes, but will develop into painful rashes or sores. Individuals must isolate until the sores fall off and the skin heals, about 21 days. Asymptomatic individuals who come in close contact with someone who has monkeypox do not need to isolate, Coren said, but are asked to monitor symptoms closely for 21 days.
Coren said schools should not be as worried about increased spread of monkeypox among students as they were with Covid-19.
“It’s a very different situation with monkeypox which requires direct contact with the lesion compared to Covid, which I think we’re all worried about,” Coren said. “Public health officials are working on some advice that will be apropos to schools, but it certainly isn’t a reason for us to be terribly frightened about what would happen in schools.”
Note: Lucy Peterson covers local government and policy for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Peterson’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact Peterson at email@example.com or at (707) 234-5291. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.