San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency officials said two probable cases of monkeypox have been detected among county residents.
The cases, which are being forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation, are not linked to each other, officials said, adding that the two infected people had recently traveled overseas. Although both have shown symptoms of the virus, they are “doing well,” as the county said. Neither was hospitalized.
Officials said the two infected people were in isolation.
“We have seen an increasing number of monkeypox virus cases around the world and in the United States in recent weeks, so our public health department has been prepared for possible local cases,” said Wilma J. Wooten, MD. , MPH, county public health officer. “Overall, the risk of monkeypox to the general population remains very low.”
Several cases of the disease have been detected in Los Angeles County, but the cases San Diego officials discussed Wednesday are the first possibly detected in the county.
We already have approved vaccines and treatments for monkeypox
Concerns about the monkeybox grew in May due to cases popping up in unusual places, such as the UK, Spain and Portugal. Monkeypox is commonly found in certain parts of Africa. Cases in Europe and the United States are rare.
“The current monkeypox situation is constantly evolving and subject to change,” the California Department of Public Health said after a case was reported in Sacramento last month. “CDPH is closely monitoring the transmission of monkeypox in the United States and California to ensure prompt identification of cases. The risk of monkeypox to the public is currently very low based on the information available.”
Here’s what you need to know about this disease rarely seen outside of Africa.
What is monkey pox?
Monkeypox is a virus that comes from wild animals like rodents and primates, and sometimes jumps to humans. Most human cases have occurred in central and western Africa, where the disease is endemic.
The disease was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys – hence the name monkeypox. The first known human infection dates back to 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote region of Congo.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
Most patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more severe illness may develop a rash and sores on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body.
The incubation period is about five days to three weeks. Most people recover in about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more serious in children.
People exposed to the virus often receive one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Antiviral drugs are also being developed.
On Thursday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that all suspected cases be isolated and high-risk contacts offered the smallpox vaccine.