Know that monkeypox spreads in several ways, such as prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids. Know how to identify distinctive symptoms, rashes or sores that can look like blisters or pimples. Seek care and protect others if you suspect infection.
As the summer season begins with increased travel and major events and gatherings, Bay Area Health Officials urge 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 from nine local health jurisdictions comes as cases – which appear on individuals as distinctive rashes and sores that can look like blisters or pimples – continue to emerge in the Bay Area, the nation and the globe. Monkeypox is not new, but this is the first time this virus has spread in so many countries at once.
Most cases of monkeypox resolve on their own, although it can be serious. The illness often begins with flu-like symptoms before the emergence of a rash and may last for 2 to 4 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 when monkeypox is spreading in the community. 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.
“The more we all know how to identify the signs of infection and how to protect ourselves, the better able we’ll be to contain the spread of monkeypox,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, Health Officer for the City of Berkeley. “If you are experiencing symptoms, stay home and contact your healthcare provider right away.”
Simple actions can help protect you from exposure to Monkeypox:
- 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
There are also actions you can take to protect others if you have symptoms – particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox – or if you have had contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox:
- Stay home if you are feeling sick
- Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
- Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed
- Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing
- Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
- Wear a well-fitted mask
- If you are contacted by public health officials, answer their confidential questions to help protect others who may have been exposed
There are other contagious illnesses that can cause rash or skin lesions that should also be treated. For example, syphilis and herpes are much more common than monkeypox, can look similar.
Anyone can get monkeypox, but some groups currently at higher risk
Many of the cases currently appearing are within networks of self-identified gay and bisexual men, trans people, and men who have sex with men. People in these networks are currently at higher risk, though people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox.
Public awareness is important as the disease could spread within potentially larger groups or networks of people.
Bay Area Health Officials urge the media, government officials, and the community at-large to support those at highest risk, keep others from becoming complacent, and avoid stigmatizing a particular group or person for monkeypox.
Local, state, and federal agencies all monitoring developments
While there are no reported cases of monkeypox among Berkeley residents, Berkeley Public Health, like other local health jurisdictions, is monitoring updates and guidance on this evolving situation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health. Berkeley Public Health has systems in place to receive reports of suspected cases and reach out to individuals and their close contacts.
With cases of monkeypox spreading, know how to protect yourself and others so you can help keep our whole community safe.
This is a joint statement from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sonoma counties and the City of Berkeley