The Santa Clara County Public Health Department, working with the state Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is investigating the county’s first probable case of monkeypox infection in a person who recently traveled internationally.
At a late afternoon press conference in San Jose, Dr. Monika Roy, Communicable Disease Controller and Assistant Health Officer, said a person preliminarily tested positive for monkeypox virus after seeking medical care.“Today we are announcing the first probable case of monkeypox infection in a Santa Clara County resident who likely became infected during international travel,” Roy said. “We encourage medical providers to be on the lookout for monkeypox infections, which develop with a characteristic rash.”
She said gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected by this virus in the region. “We stand together with these communities to support residents in protecting themselves and taking care of their health.”
Roy said the case was reported to the Public Health Department as required, and confirmation of the case is pending CDC testing. The individual is in isolation, she said.
The Public Health Department is following up with people with whom the individual may have had close contact. Additional details about the individual will not be released for reasons of medical privacy.
In Santa Clara County, as is the case across the country, local public health departments follow up with individuals who might have come in close contact with people contagious with monkeypox and also work with community organizations and medical providers to ensure that the community receives information about prevention and suspected cases are reported for testing.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, according to public health officials. “The overall risk of monkeypox to the general population is low,” the public health department said in a press release.
Individuals who believe they may have been exposed to monkeypox or have the characteristic rash or other symptoms, should contact their health care provider immediately. For updated information about monkeypox in Santa Clara County.
Earlier Thursday, in a joint statement from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sonoma counties and the City of Berkeley, health officials urged people “to protect themselves against the monkeypox virus, which spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids, such as through crowded settings or sexual contact.”
The alert from nine health jurisdictions came as cases – which appear on individuals as distinctive rashes and sores that can look like blisters or pimples – continue to emerge in the Bay Area, the nation and the globe. Monkeypox is not new, but this is the first time this virus has spread in so many countries at once.
In the statement, officials said that while most cases of monkeypox resolve on their own, it can be serious. The illness often begins with flu-like symptoms before the emergence of a rash and may last for 2 to 4 weeks. A post-exposure vaccination is available through healthcare providers.
Unlike COVID-19 which spreads easily through the air, the risk of monkeypox to the general public is currently low unless they engage in higher-risk behaviors. Having sex with multiple sex partners can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected when monkeypox is spreading in the community. “Be aware of crowded, indoor spaces where people have close skin-to-skin contact, sex, kissing and close breathing,” health officials warned. “The virus can also be spread through shared clothing or bedding.”
Bay Area health officials urged the media, government officials, and the community at-large to avoid stigmatizing a particular group or person for monkeypox, but rather support those at highest risk and keep others from becoming complacent.
Officials added that other contagious illnesses that also can cause rash or skin lesions, stating that syphilis and herpes are much more common than monkeypox, can look similar, and also should be treated.
More information about monkeypox can be found here:
- County of Santa Clara updates
- Q&A from CDPH
- Information on monkeypox from the CDC
- Social gatherings and safer sex from the CDC