The Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Branch confirmed today the first case of monkeypox in a Humboldt County resident.
This marks the first confirmed case of the infection in the county. Presently, the ill individual is doing well, self-isolating at home and appears to have no close contacts locally.
Monkeypox is a viral infection which is spread through close personal contact, including skin-to-skin contact, kissing and sex. Symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle aches and backaches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat, nasal congestion or cough.
It may also include a rash located on or near the genitals or anus, as well as other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth. The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. The rash will typically go through several stages including scabs before healing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Monkeypox is a rare zoonotic infection caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family as smallpox but less severe. The monkeypox virus is spread to humans from infected humans, animals and materials contaminated with the virus. The current outbreak has impacted mostly gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men. Although the risk to the general U.S. population is low, the following tips can help keep you safe:
- Practice good hand hygiene
- Always talk to your intimate partner/s about recent illness, and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including on the mouth, genitals, anus and hands
- Avoid intimate contact, including sex, with people who have symptoms like sores or rashes
- Avoid contact with infected animals and materials containing the virus
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask, gown and gloves when caring for people with symptoms
- Infected people should isolate until their symptoms, including rash, have gone away completely.
DHHS Public Health received an allotment of 20 monkeypox vaccines earlier this month. Approximately a quarter of the allotment will be used to vaccinate staff in Humboldt and Del Norte counties who will be in charge of vaccinating community members. The additional vaccines are available in case of an outbreak. Staff has also been working closely with the California Department of Public Health and was able to place an order earlier this week for more vaccines. They are expected to arrive soon.
In addition, a small number of vaccines were sent to Public Health for laboratory staff who will be testing monkeypox samples in the lab.
Public Health also recently received more than 400 doses of an antiviral medication which would be made available for people with severe complications.
Additionally, people at high risk for severe monkeypox who are immunocompromised, 8 years old or younger, pregnant or breastfeeding or have a history of skin disease may also be eligible for the medication.
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Candy Stockton said Public Health staff is fully equipped to respond to this case. “The experience learned in more than two years of COVID-19 response has provided staff with a lot of practice mobilizing quickly to assist in administering vaccines and getting individuals set up with the proper medications.”
Dr. Stockton added, “There is a significant difference between how monkeypox and COVID are spread. Monkeypox cases will not lead to widespread closures of schools and businesses in our community.”
While monkeypox is endemic to many Central and West African countries, there have been recent cases of monkeypox reported in non-endemic countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., as well as other parts of Europe and Australia.
To date, there are just over 7,100 cases of monkeypox in the U.S., including more than 825 cases in California. On Thursday, the U.S. federal government declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency.
If you are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for monkeypox, please contact your health care provider. If you do not have a provider, call Public Health at 707-445-6200.
To learn more about prevention steps, visit the CDC at cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/prevention.html.
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