Health officials warn of monkeypox as summer begins

Bay Area health officials issued a joint statement Thursday, urging awareness and caution about spreading a virus as summer traveling and gatherings begin. 

Nope. Not that one. But we should know this drill by now. 

Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties and the City of Berkeley are asking people to protect themselves against the monkeypox virus, which spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids, such as through crowded settings or sexual contact. 

The alert comes as monkeypox - which appear as distinctive rashes and sores that can look like blisters or pimples - emerges all over the world, including the Bay Area.  

Officials say monkeypox isn't new, but this is the first time this virus has spread in so many countries at once. 

"We are at a critical stage in this disease when we might have the chance to contain an outbreak if we act quickly and make people aware of the risks and how to protect themselves. Monkeypox can be preventable," said Acting San Francisco Health Officer, Dr. Naveena Bobba. "We know that people are excited to celebrate this summer after two years of a pandemic, and we encourage them to do so safely by knowing how to protect themselves and seeing a doctor as soon as possible if they have symptoms."   

SEE ALSO: First suspected case of monkeypox detected in Santa Clara County

Most cases of monkeypox resolve on their own, although it can be serious. It often begins with flu-like symptoms before a rash shows up and may last for two to four weeks. A post-exposure vaccination is available through healthcare providers. 

Unlike COVID-19, which spreads easily through the air, the risk of monkeypox to the general public is currently low unless they engage in higher-risk behaviors. Having sex with multiple sex partners can increase a person's risk of becoming infected. 

Officials said in their statement "Be aware of crowded, indoor spaces where people have close skin-to-skin contact, sex, kissing, and close breathing. The virus can also be spread through shared clothing or bedding." 

Health officials say people should consider covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds. Don't share bedding or clothing with others when possible. Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores. Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks. 

MORE: San Francisco health officials identify 1st probable case of monkeypox in resident

If you feel sick, stay home. Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others until you get a medical evaluation. Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing. Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing and wear a mask.