1st possible CA case of monkeypox believed to be in Sacramento, health officials say

The patient under investigation recently traveled to areas in Europe where cases of monkeypox have been confirmed

ByDustin Dorsey KGO logo
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
1st possible CA case of monkeypox believed to be in Sacramento
Sacramento Co. health officials are investigating a likely case of monkeypox related to travel in Europe.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Public Health officials say a case of monkeypox is most likely present in the county -- the first reported in California. The infected person is not being identified, but officials say they recently traveled to Europe where there are other cases of the disease. There are now 260 confirmed cases in 22 countries around the world.

"Preliminary testing was done at the Sacramento Public Health lab and we received the results," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Public Health Officer with Sacramento County Health Department. "We are still waiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control. The individual is in isolation and is not hospitalized, and is feeling well."

The traveler was not in contact with any other people. Officials say risk to the general public is very low.

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Health officials say confirmation testing from CDC is pending but, based on symptoms and preliminary testing, it is likely a confirmed case of monkeypox.

Health officials say monkeypox is rare to the United States. It is a virus similar to smallpox, but less severe. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids or respiratory droplets.

Dr. Kasirye said it is not as transmissible as COVID-19. She says her department is undergoing contact tracing. However, she mentioned they are still determining what makes up a close contact with this virus. She mentioned the risk of community transmission is minimal.

"If someone has a rash that is unusual they should contact their healthcare provider," Dr. Kasirye said. "If we need to do further investigation, we can do that right away."

There is a vaccine for monkeypox, according to the CDC. Dr. Kasirye said they need to order it from the agency. She also mentioned it can transmitted through contaminated clothing or bedding and most household cleaning products can kill the germs associated with this virus.

A Massachusetts resident who tested positive for monkeypox was the first case of the rare virus detected in the United States this year.

If it sounds like deja vu with COVID, you're not wrong. Both are spread as a respiratory virus, though monkeypox is more easily spread through direct touch.

Thankfully, UCSF Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Monica Gandhi says it does not pose as much of a threat.

"The general population should not be worried about monkeypox," Dr. Gandhi said. "This is a really different virus than COVID."

A person is most contagious when showing symptoms, highlighted by a distinctive rash and lesions. Other symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

"It's mortality rate is very low," Dr. Gandhi said. "This is a much more mild infection than what we used to see with smallpox. The health risks are really the fever and the rash. It takes about two to four weeks to resolve and all these cases so far have done very well."

Santa Clara County says that no cases of monkeypox have been identified at this time. The county said in a statement Tuesday, "As is always the case, the County of Santa Public Health Department monitors for occurrence of any unusual disease in partnership with local medical providers and laboratories, who are required to report certain diseases and conditions to public health. At this time, no cases of monkeypox have been identified in Santa Clara County."

If you show symptoms you are asked to contact your doctor.