The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) announced Friday that following a recent uptick in cases globally and in the United States, the first probable case of monkeypox has been identified in an SF resident through testing at a California Department of Public Health laboratory. The risk to the general population from this virus is believed to be low as the known cause of spread is prolonged contact and bodily fluids. Having close physical contact, including sex, with multiple people can put a person at higher risk for monkeypox.
The individual, who traveled to a location with an outbreak in cases, is in isolation and in good condition. The individual has reported no close contacts in SF during the time period where they could have spread the infection to others. Initial testing was completed at a state lab on Friday, and SFDPH is awaiting confirmation of those test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“San Francisco is prepared for this case and others, should more occur. We want to emphasize that this is not a disease that spreads easily through the air like COVID-19, however we do want people who might have been exposed to watch out for symptoms and to see a medical provider immediately if they develop symptoms for an evaluation,” said Health Officer, Dr. Susan Philip. “While most cases resolve on their own, monkeypox can be serious in rare cases and we want to prevent further spread in the community.”
There is still more to learn about the conditions in which monkeypox is spreading, and people can expect that public health guidance will evolve accordingly. It is currently understood that 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.
While we are seeing a cluster of cases appearing nationally and internationally, monkeypox remains rare, and there are other contagious illnesses that can cause rash or skin lesions. For example, syphilis and herpes are much more common than monkeypox, can appear similar, and should be treated too.
Individuals who may have been exposed to monkeypox, or who have symptoms, should immediately contact their health care provider for evaluation and guidance. Clinicians should report suspected monkeypox cases to SFDPH Communicable Disease Control.
SFDPH anticipates that more cases of monkeypox could occur in SF.
According to the CDC, as of June 6, 2022, the total confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases in the US is 31, including 6 in California.
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