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San Luis Obispo County Public Health confirms first case of Monkeypox

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – The San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health confirmed its first case of Monkeypox in a county resident on Monday as cases in California and the world continue to increase.

The person is believed to have contracted the virus while traveling in another part of the state, and public health officials say the risk to the general public still remains low. The department did not specify what part of the county the individual lives in but did say that they are recovering in isolation and in good condition.

Public Health officials are in communication with the person's close contacts and are providing vaccines to those who may have been exposed to the virus.

The case was diagnosed when the person started experiencing symptoms and promptly sought care, according to Public Health spokesman Tom Cuddy.

“This case of monkeypox was diagnosed thanks to the prompt action of the individual and their
health care provider,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein.

“Monkeypox spreads through prolonged, close physical contact with someone who has symptoms or with contaminated materials like clothes or bedding. It does not spread easily through the air or through brief contact like walking by someone on the street. Anyone who has an unusual rash and is concerned about monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider for an evaluation.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency for the virus on Aug. 1.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, respiratory symptoms, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body.

It spreads primarily through close, often skin-to-skin contact, with people who have Monkeypox symptoms such as rash and sores or, although uncommonly, with unwashed materials used by someone with monkeypox symptoms, Cuddy said.

Anyone with an unusual rash and is concerned about Monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider for an evaluation and follow-up care, especially if they may have had a close personal contact with someone who had a rash or attended a large event with lots of close contacts, he added.

While vaccines to provide protection against Monkeypix, vaccine supply is very limited and the Public Health Department has received a very small allocation of the vaccine – which reflects an extremely limited national supply, according to Cuddy.

In accordance with state and national guidance, San Luis Obispo County's initial small allocation of the vaccine is currently prioritized for people who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus and for lab workers who regularly handle the virus.

“We, unfortunately, have an extremely limited vaccine supply and must reserve it for those at the
most severe risk following contact with someone who has Monkeypox,” said Borenstein.

“We hope vaccine supply will increase and will communicate directly with the public when it does. In the
meantime, it’s important to remember that risk to the general public remains very low and there are
steps you can take to protect yourself from monkeypox.”

Until vaccine access expands, the Public Health Department offered the following steps to protect yourself from the virus:

• Talk with your close contacts, including sexual partners, about any recent illness and be
aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body.
• Avoid close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox symptoms like
rashes or sores.
• Avoid contact with unwashed items or fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing, dishes) used by
someone who has monkeypox symptoms like rashes or sores.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
• If you are caring for someone who has monkeypox and is experiencing symptoms, use
appropriate personal protective equipment (like a mask, gown, eye protection, and gloves).

For more information about Monkeypox and to sign up to receive updates, click here.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County
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Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue is the Assignment Editor and web journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Jade, click here

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