published on July 19, 2022 - 1:55 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

The Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) has confirmed its first case of monkeypox in the county.

Over the past few weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have been monitoring transmission — and seen an increase in reported cases.

The region’s first case was reported in Tulare County last week.

“Although the risk of monkeypox is low based on the information available, the FCDPH encourages everyone to assess their own risk for Monkeypox by considering the ways in which it can be spread and modifying activities that may put them at risk,” says Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County interim health officer.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with a virus related to the variola (smallpox) virus and vaccinia virus. All of these are characterized by rash, flu-like systemic illness and enlargement of lymph nodes. Mortality from monkeypox is low, although severe illnesses and deaths have been reported. The FCDPH is working with state and national agencies to ensure that testing, treatment and vaccination efforts are aligned with current best practices. In addition, available supplies, including vaccines, are being monitored.

The monkeypox infection might start with symptoms similar to the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and general body aches, but the most prominent symptom in this wave of monkeypox is rash or sores, which may be the first or only sign of monkeypox and may begin within 1-3 days of other symptoms.

Most of the recent cases of monkeypox have been related to sexual activities, with rash and/or sores on the genitals, anus or face. The rash can resemble pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy. The sores/rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox is not spread through casual conversations, walking by someone with monkeypox, like in a grocery store, or touching items like doorknobs, according to the FCDPH.

Most members of the general public do not require any special prevention or constraints on their activity. Those who are engaged in unprotected sexual activity, or prolonged intimate contact, should speak with their partners about how to minimize risk, including abstinence and safer sex practices. Household contacts of infected individuals could also be at increased risk of getting this disease, so a period of isolation until recovery is required for all monkeypox patients.

If individuals think they have been in contact with someone with monkeypox or have a new or an unexplained rash or develop other symptoms, they should seek medical care for further testing and evaluation at their local clinic. For more information on the Monkeypox virus, please visit fcdph.org/monkeypox.


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