Sacramento health officials are investigating a “likely” case of monkeypox, which marks the first suspected case in California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The person, who recently traveled to Europe, is isolating at home and isn’t in contact with other people.
“The individual is in isolation, is not hospitalized and is doing well,” Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye announced during a briefing Tuesday morning.
The county is working with the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to identify and evaluate close contacts,” Kasirye said. She added that there is “minimal risk to the general public.”
CDPH said health officials started investigating the case on Saturday, though they did not disclose specifics on the individual’s travel arrangements. Kasirye said the tests were sent to the CDC on Monday, but she did not have a timeline for when the results might come back.
Kasirye also did not provide the patient’s age or gender, but confirmed the individual is a Sacramento County resident, the Times reports.
“I think it’s important that if people are exhibiting some of the symptoms, especially if they have a rash that is unusual, that they contact their healthcare provider to have that checked out and make sure that if we need to do further investigation that we can do that right away,” Kasirye said.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that had not previously caused widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals. Most infections typically last two to four weeks and cause flu-like illnesses and lesions on the face or genitals. Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, according to the CDC.
“U.S. cases are related to international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common,” Sacramento County health officials said, the Sacramento Bee reports.
“Because the disease is rare, health care providers may not be familiar with the presentation of monkeypox and the possibility of monkeypox transmission during intimate or sexual contact may not be well known,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan added. “As such, CDPH is promoting awareness amongst healthcare providers and the public, including appropriate infection control for monkeypox cases in the healthcare setting.”
The news of the suspected case in Sacramento County arrives one day after Dr. David Heymann, a leading adviser to the World Health Organization, said the spread of the virus was likely to have been sexually transmitted among men at raves held in Spain and Belgium.
“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” Heymann told the Associated Press.
To date, WHO has reported more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including the United States, Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, Australia, and Denmark. A Massachusetts man, who was diagnosed last week, is the only confirmed and reported U.S. case so far.
According to the Times, the last considerable monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. happened in 2003, in which there were 71 confirmed or suspected cases mostly in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. The confirmed cases had contact with pet prairie dogs obtained from a pet distributor in suburban Chicago that had been housed near giant Gambian rats that came from Ghana.
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