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Plumas Public Health addresses monkeypox; detected in neighboring counties, but not here yet

Monkeypox cases continue to increase across the nation, and the World Health Organization Director General just declared the current monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

There are no documented cases in Plumas County at this point, though some have been confirmed in neighboring counties. Plumas County Public Health released the following guidance today, July 29:

The current monkeypox situation is rapidly evolving and the information below will be updated as new information emerges. The California Department of Public Health  is closely monitoring monkeypox transmission in the U.S. and California to ensure rapid identification of cases. The risk of monkeypox to the public is currently very low based on the information available.

As of July 28, 786 probable and confirmed monkeypox cases have been reported in California. While it’s good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of getting monkeypox in the general public is very low. No probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in Plumas County, however there have been cases in some neighboring counties. It is not a matter of if, but when the first case of monkeypox will be reported in Plumas County.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus which includes the variola (smallpox) virus as well as the vaccinia virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine. Monkeypox is of public health concern because the illness is similar to smallpox and can be spread from infected humans, animals, and materials contaminated with the virus. Monkeypox is less transmissible and usually less severe than smallpox.

Monkeypox might start with symptoms like the flu, with fever, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and general body aches. Within 1 to 3 days (sometimes longer) after the appearance of fever, the person can develop a rash or sores. The sores will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. They can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful and itchy. Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Monkeypox can spread through touching materials used by a person with monkeypox that haven’t been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. Monkeypox is not spread through casual brief conversations or by walking by someone with monkeypox.

If you have a new or an unexplained rash or other symptoms, seek medical care for further testing and evaluation. Wear a mask and tell your healthcare provider of your current symptoms for possible monkeypox. Avoid crowds, close contact, including sexual or intimate contact until seeing your healthcare provider.

If you have had a probable or known exposure to someone who has or might have monkeypox, reach out to PCPHA at 530-383-6330 to discuss post-exposure prophylaxis. At this time, JYNNEOS (monkeypox vaccine) is limitedly available in Plumas County for post-exposure prevention and a select few other situations. More vaccine is expected to be available at a later date for pre-exposure prevention as more vaccine becomes available.

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