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.
Six Berkeley residents have tested positive as probable cases of monkeypox, a treatable viral disease primarily spread through higher risk behaviors – such as sex with multiple partners or being in crowded, indoor spaces where people have close skin-to-skin contact and close breathing.
While the six separate and unrelated cases are each safely isolating at home, they serve as a reminder that this virus continues to spread. Cases around the region are included among the 2,108 known cases nationwide on July 19. Everyone should know how to identify the rashes and protect themselves – both before and after an infection.
Monkeypox usually appears on individuals as distinctive rashes or sores that can look like blisters or pimples. Risk remains low to those not engaging in higher-risk activities, but shared bedding and clothing is another vehicle for spread.
Know how to identify the rashes and sores so you can seek out a post-exposure vaccine through health care providers, if needed. There are also simple, non-pharmaceutical precautions people can take to protect themselves when in these higher-risk environments.
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
- When around people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox, avoid:
- close, skin-to-skin contact, such as through kissing, hugging, cuddling, or sex;
- sharing bedding, clothing, or utensils.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
There are also actions you can take to protect others if you have symptoms – particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox, such as these:
If you have one of those tell-tale rashes 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 and can look similar.
Anyone can get monkeypox, but some groups currently at higher risk
Many of the current cases 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.
We continue to urge the media, government officials, and the community at-large to support those at highest risk, encourage others to take precautions, and avoid stigmatizing a particular group or person for monkeypox.
With cases of monkeypox spreading, know how to protect yourself and others so you can help keep our whole community safe.
- Monkeypox Guidance and Status in U.S. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Monkeypox: Social Gatherings & Safer Sex (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Monkeypox: Pets in the home (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Monkeypox Guidance & Status in California (California Department of Public Health)
- First Alameda County Resident with Confirmed Orthopox Virus Infection, Suspected Monkeypox (Alameda County Public Health)