Monkeypox Arrives: First Case in Humboldt County Confirmed Today, Says County's Public Health Division

Monkeypox Arrives: First Case in Humboldt County Confirmed Today, Says County’s Public Health Division

The
Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)
Public Health Branch confirmed today the first case of monkeypox in a
Humboldt County resident.

This
marks the first confirmed case of the infection in the county.
Presently, the ill individual is doing well, self-isolating at home
and appears to have no close contacts locally.

Monkeypox
is a viral infection which is spread through close personal contact,
including skin-to-skin contact, kissing and sex. Symptoms of
monkeypox include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle
    aches and backaches

  • Swollen
    lymph nodes

  • Chills

  • Exhaustion

  • Sore
    throat, nasal congestion or cough.

It
may also include a rash located on or near the genitals or anus, as
well as other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or
itchy. The rash will typically go through several stages including
scabs before healing, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC).

Monkeypox
is a rare zoonotic infection caused by the monkeypox virus, which is
in the same family as smallpox but less severe. The monkeypox virus
is spread to humans from infected humans, animals and materials
contaminated with the virus. The current outbreak has impacted mostly
gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men. Although the risk
to the general U.S. population is low, the following tips can help
keep you safe:

  • Practice
    good hand hygiene

  • Always
    talk to your intimate partner/s about recent illness, and be aware
    of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s
    body, including on the mouth, genitals, anus and hands

  • Avoid
    intimate contact, including sex, with people who have symptoms like
    sores or rashes

  • Avoid
    contact with infected animals and materials containing the virus

  • Use
    appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask, gown
    and gloves when caring for people with symptoms

  • Infected
    people should isolate until their symptoms, including rash, have
    gone away completely.

DHHS
Public Health received an allotment of 20 monkeypox vaccines earlier
this month. Approximately a quarter of the allotment will be used to
vaccinate staff in Humboldt and Del Norte counties who will be in
charge of vaccinating community members. The additional vaccines are
available in case of an outbreak. Staff has also been working closely
with the California Department of Public Health and was able to place
an order earlier this week for more vaccines. They are expected to
arrive soon.

In
addition, a small number of vaccines were sent to Public Health for
laboratory staff who will be testing monkeypox samples in the lab.

Public
Health also recently received more than 400 doses of an antiviral
medication which would be made available for people with severe
complications.

Additionally,
people at high risk for severe monkeypox who are immunocompromised, 8
years old or younger, pregnant or breastfeeding or have a history of
skin disease may also be eligible for the medication.

Humboldt
County Health Officer Dr. Candy Stockton said Public Health staff is
fully equipped to respond to this case. “The experience learned in
more than two years of COVID-19 response has provided staff with a
lot of practice mobilizing quickly to assist in administering
vaccines and getting individuals set up with the proper medications.”

Dr.
Stockton added, “There is a significant difference between how
monkeypox and COVID are spread. Monkeypox cases will not lead to
widespread closures of schools and businesses in our community.”

While
monkeypox is endemic to many Central and West African countries,
there have been recent cases of monkeypox reported in non-endemic
countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., as well as other
parts of Europe and Australia.

To
date, there are just over 7,100 cases of monkeypox in the U.S.,
including more than 825 cases in California. On Thursday, the U.S.
federal government declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health
emergency.

If
you are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with an
individual who has tested positive for monkeypox, please contact your
health care provider. If you do not have a provider, call Public
Health at 707-445-6200.

To
learn more about prevention steps, visit the CDC at
cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/prevention.html.

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