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August 17, 2022

Probable monkeypox cases identified on Central Coast

CENTRAL COAST—Two Santa Cruz County residents have become the first in the county to be diagnosed with a probable case of monkeypox, the Santa Cruz County Public Health Division announced Wednesday. 

The announcements on June 29 and July 6 came as a recent uptick in cases occurs globally and in the United States.

The individuals are under medical care, in isolation and in good condition, County Public Health officials say. Those officials are awaiting results of confirmatory test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Monterey County Health Department announced the first case there on June 23.

According to CDC, the risk to the general population from monkeypox is low, and the virus does not spread easily between people without close contact. There is still more to learn about the conditions in which monkeypox is spreading in the United States, and people can expect that public health guidance will evolve accordingly.

“We want to emphasize that this is not a disease that spreads easily through the air like Covid-19,” said Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel. “However, we do want people who might have been exposed to watch for symptoms and to seek medical care if they develop symptoms.” 

Most cases resolve on their own, but monkeypox can be serious in rare cases, Newell said.

In response to the outbreak, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said recently it will make 296,000 doses of vaccine for the disease available in the coming weeks—56,000 doses will be made available immediately and 1.6 million doses in the U.S. by the end of the year.

Monkeypox can spread through activities that include intimate sexual contact, kissing, breathing at very close range, or sharing bedding and clothing. 

It appears as a distinctive rash or sores on the skin anywhere on the body, including in the genital area. It often begins as flu-like symptoms.

Symptoms, according to the CDC, include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Symptoms also include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body.

Individuals who may have been exposed to monkeypox, or who have symptoms, should immediately contact a health care provider for evaluation and guidance. Clinicians should report suspected monkeypox cases to the County’s Communicable Disease Unit by calling 454-4114.

How to protect yourself from monkeypox:

  • Consider wearing a well-fitted mask and covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds.
  • Don’t share bedding, clothing, and food or drink with others who exhibit symptoms of monkeypox
  • Talk with close physical contacts about their general health including recent rashes and sores
  • Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks

If you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox, or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, take the following steps:

  • Cover the area of the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
  • Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed
  • Contact a health care provider as soon as possible
  • Assist public health officials to track others who may have been exposed
  • Inform sex partners and other close contacts of symptoms

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