Tulare County sees first case of monkeypox

Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught says it is important to be informed about health threats such as monkeypox, but the risk to the general public is low

TULARE COUNTY – The monkeypox virus is a rare disease that may include flu-like symptoms accompanied by a rash. Tulare County Public Health has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Tulare County, but the overall risk to the general population is low.

According to Tulare County Health and Human Services, the first case of monkeypox has been identified in a Tulare County resident. Risk remains low while the number of probable/confirmed cases is growing in California with 186 cases, and the United States with a total of 791 cases. Currently there are no reported deaths from monkeypox in California. 

Monkeypox spreads through direct, close contact with an infected person. It is of public health concern because the illness can be spread from infected humans, animals and materials contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin, even if not visible, the respiratory tract or mucous membranes – eyes, nose or mouth – after skin or sexual contact, from bodily fluids, or contact with contaminated clothing or linens.  

“It is important for our community to be informed on emerging public health threats like monkeypox,”Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer said. “However, currently the risk to the general public is low.”

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Symptoms of monkeypox may include flu-like symptoms, a rash on the face, extremities or genital area that may look like pimples or blisters, fever, swollen lymph nodes, general body aches, or fatigue. People with a monkeypox infection may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. However most people with will develop the characteristic rash. 

Monkeypox can be passed to others from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed, which can take several weeks. There are no treatments that are specific for monkeypox; however, in limited situations, a vaccination that was developed to prevent smallpox, a similar virus, may be recommended for those who may have been exposed to the virus

“It is vital that persons who have symptoms or suspect they have monkeypox contact their health care provider right away,” Dr. Haught said. “There are many other causes of rashes, but it is always important to let your provider know you have a rash when scheduling an appointment.”

There are steps residents can take to reduce the spread of monkeypox and protect themselves from infection: 

  • Practice good hand hygiene often, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Wear a well-fitted face mask when around others
  • Talk with any new partners about their health before close or intimate contact
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and their bedding, clothing or other materials
  • Stay home and call your provider if you are sick with any symptoms or have a new rash
  • Stay aware if traveling to countries or large events where there are current outbreaks of monkeypox

For more information about monkeypox, visit the Tulare County HHSA website at: tchhsa.org or the CDPH monkeypox informational webpage at: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Monkeypox.aspx 

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