Monkeypox Hits L.A. County with First Suspected Case

Health officials announced the county’s first suspected case of monkeypox, but stressed that the risk of infection ”remains very low”

Los Angeles County on Thursday announced its first suspected case of monkeypox, but stressed that the risk of infection in the general population “remains very low.”

“The patient is an adult resident who recently traveled and had a known close contact to a case. Although the patient is symptomatic, they are doing well and not hospitalized. They are isolated from others,” county health officials said in a statement. “Public Health is continuing to investigate and conduct contact tracing and post-exposure prevention for close contacts.”

Officials are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California marked its first suspected monkeypox case last week in Sacramento County. The person, who recently traveled to Europe, is isolating at home and isn’t in contact with others, health officials said on May 24. Shortly after, the county reported that a second person, who had close contact with the first patient, was also suspected of contracting the viral infection, the Sacramento Bee reports.

On May 31, Sacramento county officials announced a third “probable” case of monkeypox. That person had contact with the first patient as well, county health spokeswoman Samantha Mott told the newspaper. The county identified the additional cases through contact tracing.

Last week, the World Health Organization said 23 countries which had never detected a case of monkeypox before have now reported more than 250 confirmed cases and roughly 120 suspected cases.

One expert from the World Health Organization suggested in an interview with the Associated Press that the spread of monkeypox may have been connected to sexual encounters at two raves in Spain and Belgium. Some of those believed to have contracted monkeypox in the United States had traveled at the end of April and started having symptoms in early May, the Los Angeles Times reports.

However, some cases may have preceded those events.

Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s monkeypox expert, told CNBC that the virus may have gone undetected for months or years. Investigations remain ongoing.

“We don’t really know whether it’s too late to contain. What WHO and all member states are trying to do is prevent onward spread,” Lewis said during a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday, according to CNBC. She added that contract tracing and isolating patients who have the virus are critical to stopping the spread.

To prevent the spread of monkeypox, officials encouraged Angelenos “to be aware of the risks and how monkeypox spreads.”

The virus can be spread through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items such as clothing and bedding that have been contaminated, the L.A. County health officials said in the news statement.

Monkeypox can also be spread between people through saliva or respiratory droplets, typically between people in a close setting, officials noted.

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