Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) officials are investigating the first documented case of Monkeypox in Ventura County, stressing, however, that the risk to the general public is still considered low.
No cases have been reported in Santa Barbara County.
VCPH received a confirmed case of Monkeypox virus infection in an adult after testing was completed at a local lab.
Public Health officials are conducting contact tracing with the patient to identify anyone who may be at risk due to direct close contact with the patient while infectious. People with direct close contact are being asked to watch for symptoms of illness.
VCPH is utilizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) risk assessment tool to determine level of risk for those in close contact and the need for vaccination.
At this time, the CDC does not recommend broader use of the vaccine; however, their evaluation of vaccine guidance is ongoing, and VCPH will continue to monitor and evaluate the need for vaccine or antivirals on a case-by-case basis using CDC guidance.
The virus does not easily spread between people with casual contact, but transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores and body fluids; contaminated items, such as clothing or bedding; or through respiratory droplets associated with prolonged face-to-face contact.
Symptoms of Monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. In this outbreak, some individuals have had a rash only and no other symptoms, and sometimes the rash consists of only a few sores. The rash can occur in the mouth, and there may be sores in the genital and anal areas. In other cases, a rash may be on the face and on other parts of the body.
The illness typically lasts two to four weeks and most people get better on their own without treatment. However, sometimes Monkeypox can cause scars from the sores, lead to pneumonia, and in rare cases even be fatal. People who have monkeypox can spread the virus from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.
Over the last several months, VCPH has been working with health care providers countywide to promote awareness of Monkeypox, including what symptoms to look for, how to test for it and ways to help prevent transmission.
“While the threat of Monkeypox generally remains low, it’s important that everyone be aware of this disease, so that those at risk can implement prevention measures and seek medical care and get tested through a health care provider if they believe they have symptoms,” said Ventura County Public Health Officer Robert Levin.
To prevent the spread of Monkeypox, the California Department of Public Health encourages the public to:
* Practice good hand hygiene. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
* Minimize skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have been exposed to the virus or to those showing a rash or skin sores.
* Always talk to your sexual partner(s) about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body.
* Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in direct contact with someone with Monkeypox.
* Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), like a mask, gown and gloves, when caring for others with symptoms.
If you develop a suspicious rash or were in contact with someone who has tested positive for Monkeypox, reach out to a health care provider right away for further guidance and for testing, as early recognition and testing can help prevent further transmission.
For more information about the virus and how to limit infection risk, visit the California Department of Public Health’s Website.