published on July 1, 2022 - 1:23 PM
Written by Associated Press

Amid a rise in positive Covid-19 cases, Fresno County health officials are reminding the public to be watchful of monkeypox. 

Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health director for Fresno County, said despite the name, the virus doesn’t come from monkeys. 

“Monkeypox is really spreading very quickly,” Vohra said. 

It’s a highly contagious virus related to smallpox, and it’s spreading through high-risk populations, especially gay, sexually-active men.

“My call to action is if you work with men who have sex with men, or if you’re part of that community, please be on the lookout. And please reach out to us if we can at all help you,” Vohra said. 

There’s a stigma attached to the virus, because it’s often sexually transmitted — though it can be spread via close contact with the rash or lesions. 

“It actually looks like many other sexually transmitted diseases,” Vohra said.

Vohra said the downfall is that people often overlook the rash until it spreads to other parts of the body. Vohra suspects there might be a delay in understanding the true number of positive cases because of this, but wants the medical community to be prepared with an action plan when the first positive case is detected.

Fresno County does not have any confirmed cases right now, but there are 80 confirmed cases in the State of California. The health department warned the public that it might not be long until that changes. The pandemic has taught people that although there are not yet confirmed cases, it could be circulating in its infancy.

“What’s concerning is that we probably have cases circulating in the Central Valley,” Vohra said. “We know that epidemiologically we should expect it any day.”

The health department is working to get resources together in preparation for the day there is a confirmed case of monkeypox in the Valley. It is also alerting clinicians about how to send lab tests to confirm monkeypox cases. 

While this is an evolving subject, Vohra said it is time to really alert people. 

“I think its circulating here in the Central Valley and it’s just a matter of time before Fresno County or one of our surrounding counties report their first case,” Vohra said.

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