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

San Francisco is the latest California city to report a probable case of monkeypox on Friday. Health officials say they are prepared for this case and others should more occur.

Officials with San Francisco Department of Public Health issued a statement saying intimate contact with multiple people can put a person at risk if monkeypox is spreading in the community, but that risk to the general public is low. 

"We want to emphasize that this is not a disease that spreads easily through the air like COVID-19, however we do want people who might have been exposed to watch out for symptoms and to see a medical provider immediately if they develop symptoms for an evaluation," said Health Officer, Dr. Susan Philip. "While most cases resolve on their own, monkeypox can be serious in rare cases and we want to prevent further spread in the community."

The presumed case was identified in a San Francisco resident through testing at a California Department of Public Health laboratory, the health department said. The individual was said to have traveled to a location where there is an outbreak. They are currently in isolation and said to be in good condition. 

The health department said the individual reported no close contacts during the time period where they could have spread the infection. They were tested for the virus on Friday and await results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The recent uptick in cases has seen three in Sacramento and another presumed case in Los Angeles County on Thursday. 

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious diseases specialist, said California can expect to see more cases, but stressed there is no need to panic. 

The known cause of spread is prolonged contact with an infected person and bodily fluids. Having close physical contact, including sex, with multiple people can put a person at higher risk for monkeypox.

However, the health department said there is more to learn about how the virus spreads and ensure that public health guidance will evolve accordingly. 

Symptoms of monkeypox include: fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes chills and exhaustion. 

Monkeypox can be spread through an infected person's clothing or bedsheets.

The incubation period for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks. 

Health officials note that monkeypox is rare despite the cluster of cases globally and in the U.S. 

The lesions associated with monkeypox can appear similar to rashes and lesions from syphilis and herpes, which are more contagious diseases they said. 

If you have been exposed to monkeypox, you should contact your health care provider immediately. The clinicians should then report cases to SF DPH Communicable Disease Control, the department said. 

This presumed case comes just as Pride festivities are getting underway and COVID cases are currently surging. 

"Most of the recent cases of monkeypox globally are among individuals who self-identify as gay men or men who have sex with men, which may put individuals in this community at higher risk of infection," the health department said. However, they note anyone can be infected and spread the disease. 

Last month early instances of the disease's outbreak were linked to sex at raves in Europe.

City health officials said the state health department has procured the Jynneos vaccine to distribute to counties for preventative use in people who are identified as close contacts. 

Chin-Hong said the state is also positioned with diagnostics and therapeutics if need be.

Public health officials said there are now two distinct strains of monkeypox in the U.S. This means the virus could have circulated undetected for some time. 

At least 20 cases have been identified in 11 states. 

How to protect yourself:

  • Consider wearing a well-fitted mask and covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds
  • Don’t share bedding, clothing, and food or drink with others
  • Talk to close physical contacts about their general health like recent rashes or sores
  • Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks

If you have symptoms particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox, or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox:

  • Cover the area of the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
  • Wear a well-fitted mask
  • Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed
  • Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
  • Assist public health officials to track others who may have been exposed
  • Inform sex partners of symptoms