California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over the spread of monkeypox.
Local health agencies say monkeypox is widely expected to find its way to the Central Coast soon.
“It's a virus that's part of the pox viruses that's been around for many decades that's been discovered,” said Twin Cities Hospitalist Dr. Stephen Sigmund.
Health departments say the response to how the Central Coast handles monkeypox is what will determine its overall impact.
“It is spread usually by sexually transmitted ways,” said French Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Vendegna. “It's similar to herpes and syphilis. Those kinds of diseases are very similar to monkeypox.”
“It can spread by respiratory droplets,” said Sigmund. "It can spread by clothing. It can be spread by dirty linen. You are contagious during that period until the pustules scab over.”
“It usually starts with a red lesion that starts to raise and then becomes a bump that fills with fluid,” said Vendegna.
Local public health departments say they are prepared to take action.
“Our public health team is prepared to conduct investigations immediately and prepare to administer a vaccine to close contacts if needed,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Deputy Director Paige Batson.
Governor Newsom declared the state of emergency Monday.
“It allows for a more coordinated response to any emergency, such as with COVID,” said Batson.
“The goal really is to get ahead of this before it becomes a problem of the community,” said Sigmund.
The state of emergency in turn will allow health departments to emphasize the importance of preparing for the arrival of the virus.
“The main concern for the general public is close, intimate contact,” said Vendegna.
“It’s different from COVID because we actually have a vaccine that is available,” said Batson.
The departments say they have put a plan in place for potential patients on the Central Coast.
“Because of these enhanced reporting processes, we're able to get on top of any positive result immediately,” said Batson.
“If they have to be admitted, we put them in isolation because we don't want it to spread to anyone else,” said Vendegna.
“Unfortunately, this is transmittable upon contact so it can easily come to the Central Coast and it's already in the state,” said Sigmund.
Right now, at least 14,000 people have contracted monkeypox.
It is not a disease that is expected to cause death amongst most of those who are affected by it.
There are just five deaths worldwide linked to monkeypox.