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Health officials say there are key differences to know between monkeypox and COVID-19

Posted at 6:41 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 22:19:13-04

Although San Luis Obispo County has not seen a monkeypox case yet, health officials say knowing the facts and what precautions to take to avoid it will help the community get ahead of these outbreaks.

On the Central Coast, there has only been one confirmed case in Santa Barbara County so far.

“Part of our goal here is not only prevention and treatment of disease but really to educate the public to prevent further spread of this disease," said Dr. Stephen Sigmund, a hospitalist at Twin Cities Community Hospital.

Education, isolation, and vaccination become part of the game plan against this virus.

First, education, as monkeypox and COVID-19 share similar symptoms.

“They both start with the illness of having chills, fevers, body malaise and last one to five days and could even last as long as two weeks," Dr. Sigmund said.

“They almost always look the same but at some point, something differentiates. With COVID it tends to be congestion and cough, upper respiratory symptoms similar to influenza," said Dr. Brian Roberts. Medical Director at Med Stop Urgent Care.

With monkeypox, the main difference is fluid-filled blisters that can occur anywhere on the body from five to 21 days after the first symptoms.

Next up is isolation and other precautions that are similar to practices used with COVID-19.

“Handwashing techniques, keeping a distance. If you develop having a fever, chills to self-isolate and not go out into the public, and local skin checks," Dr. Sigmund said.

For those who are eligible, getting vaccinated is the main source of protection.

California Department of Public Health has allocated 20 monkeypox vaccines to San Luis Obispo County and 40 to Santa Barbara County.

Vaccination includes two doses, 28 days apart.  Supply is limited and there are eligibility requirements.

 Local health officials say the monkeypox transmission rate is low and is generally a result of prolonged close skin-to-skin contact.