SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – As the summer travel and gathering season begins, Bay Area health officials are urging awareness of the monkeypox threat. The virus is spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids, such as through crowded sexual contact environments, officials from several counties and jurisdictions warned in a joint statement.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
The warning, issued jointly by the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sonoma, along with the city of Berkeley, says cases continue to emerge in the Bay Area. Symptoms of monkeypox manifest as distinctive rashes and sores that may resemble blisters or pimples.
Most cases of monkeypox resolve on their own, the statement says, but the virus can be serious. Often the rash is preceded by flu-like symptoms and can last for two to four weeks. Post-exposure vaccinations are available through healthcare professionals.
How monkeypox spreads
The risk to the general public is relatively low, according to the statement. Unlike COVID-19, the virus does not spread easily through the air. However, high-risk behaviors, such as having sex with multiple partners or being in crowded indoor spaces, can increase the likelihood of contracting monkeypox.
“While we have been lucky in Sonoma County so far and have not yet found any cases of monkeypox, we want to let people know how they can take precautions to keep themselves and those around them healthy,” said Dr Sundari Mase. , Sonoma County Official Health Officer. “We know how to contain the spread of monkeypox and we ask everyone to be aware of the signs of the infection and ways to prevent its transmission.”
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Monkeypox threat to the LGBTQ community
Currently, many of the Bay Area’s monkeypox cases are appearing among self-identified gay or bisexual men, trans people, and men who have sex with other men. “People in these networks are currently at higher risk,” the statement said, “although people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox.”
Bay Area health officials have warned media, government officials and others to avoid stigmatizing or stereotyping any particular monkeypox group. The statement also notes that other more common contagious diseases than monkeypox can also cause rashes or skin lesions, including syphilis and herpes.
How to protect yourself from monkeypox
The statement offers these guidelines for protection against the virus:
- Consider covering exposed skin indoors and dense
- Do not share bedding or clothing with others whenever possible
- Before having close physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores
- Be careful if you travel to countries where there are outbreaks