SAN JOSE, Calif. - Santa Clara County is investigating its first possible case of monkeypox. Public health officials talked about the isolated case this afternoon, and what people should do if they believe they’ve been exposed to the virus.
Health officials say people who’ve been in physical contact with someone who has monkeypox, people who frequently travel to countries where it’s prevalent, and men who have sex with men, all face a greater chance of contracting the virus.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Some of its symptoms include a rash or lesions, fever, swollen lymph nodes and chills. Dr. Monika Roy with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Dept. says even as cases grow, the overall risk of another pandemic is low.
"The most important thing for people to do, if they have symptoms of a rash, particularly if they have a new partner, is to seek care from a medical provider as soon as possible," said Dr. Monika Roy, Asst. Health Officer with the County of Santa Clara Public Health Dept.
The person in Santa Clara County tested positive for the virus while seeking other medical care and had recently traveled internationally. Doctors are following up with people they may have come in contact with. The public health dept. says medical providers are also reporting an increase in monkeypox cases within the LGBTQ+ community.
"Regionally, individuals who identify as gay, trans or men who have sex with men; they are a part of that group where we have been seeing a disproportionate number of cases," Dr. Roy said.
"Part of the reason I think it may be spreading in our community is that we are more loving, more connective and because we are isolated from the world in general, we connect more with each other. That’s something that we need to be more cautious about," said Gabrielle Antolovich, board president for the Billy Defrank LGBTQ+ Community Center.
Antolovich says advocates plan to spread more awareness about monkeypox at major events this summer. She also wants to make sure people in the gay community aren’t labeled, if they contract the virus.
"We are lucky to have public health, the county supervisors, the city council people, who are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. So that they won’t stigmatize us while at the same time making sure our community gets the information," said Antolovich.
Dr. Roy says there is a treatment used for monkeypox, but it’s generally used in severe cases. She says the person who tested positive for monkeypox is now in isolation.