SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento County public health officials say they are investigating a probable travel-related case of the monkeypox virus.
The likely case – which would be California’s first – was announced by public health officials on Tuesday.
“This case appears to be related to recent travel to Europe,” said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County’s Public Health Officer, in a statement.
Dr. Kasirye noted that the risk to the general public is “extremely low.”
California Department of Public Health officials say they started investigating the suspected case back on Saturday. The person initially tested positive for the orthopox virus and is now isolating.
“Because the disease is rare, health care providers may not be familiar with the presentation of monkeypox and the possibility of monkeypox transmission during intimate or sexual contact may not be well known,” said California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan in a statement. “As such, CDPH is promoting awareness amongst healthcare providers and the public, including appropriate infection control for monkeypox cases in the healthcare setting.”
While it’s not an STD, the World Health Organization says the most recent surge in monkeypox cases is spread primarily through sex between men, entering the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Health officials in Europe have been raising the alarm about an outbreak of the rare disease in recent weeks. More than 90 cases across a dozen countries have been recorded so far – including the U.K., Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, Australia and the US.
Only one case of monkeypox has been confirmed in the US, a person in Boston. However, other suspected cases have been recorded in Florida and New York.
While confirmation testing from both the CDC as well as the California Department of Public Health is pending, Sacramento County officials say symptoms and their preliminary testing lead them to believe that the monkeypox confirmation is likely for their case.
UC Davis Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Dean Blumberg says there are things we already know about the Monkeypox virus.
“Monkeypox is a viral infection and it’s transmitted primarily through animals like rodents and primates in central and west Africa to humans but it may be transmitted person to person also by prolonged close contact with someone,” he said.
People suffering from monkeypox will show distinctive rashes and lesions. It can be spread through close contact with someone infected. Other common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. Health officials say the incubation period can range from 5-21 days, with the illness typically lasting for 2-4 weeks.
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The smallpox vaccine, which works to protect against monkeypox, is being delivered to public health authorities.