It has been about 20 years since monkeypox was last detected in the United States. While a case was reported in California just this week, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says the risk to the public locally remains low.
Dr. Penny Borenstein, the San Luis Obispo County Health Officer, said, “It is not particularly deadly and it is not something that we expect to see a lot of, though it is surprising that we're seeing as many cases in the United States as we are.”
Suspected cases started appearing in the United States last week. Monkeypox is rarely seen outside of the continent of Africa and can include flu-like symptoms, but health officials say unusual rashes or lesions can also appear.
Anyone noticing these added symptoms should contact their care provider to see if they should get tested for the virus, according to the County.
“What's classic about monkeypox is the rash. You may start with some of the same symptoms that you'd see with a flu or even COVID with just fever, body aches, headaches, a flu-like illness,” said Dr. Borenstein.
She explained a person is infectious while they still have lesions.
“Monkeypox is reasonably easily spread when you're in direct contact with someone. So touching, touching the lesions, especially hugging, so close contact with people can spread this virus.”
The recovery period is typically about two weeks.
The United States is working to release monkeypox vaccine doses from its Strategic National Stockpile.