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Monkeypox declared public health emergency in San Diego

Mayor Todd Gloria, Chair Nathan Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, among others spoke during the Tuesday briefing.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County leaders and public health representatives announced Tuesday a public health emergency in San Diego for monkeypox. 

There are 27 confirmed monkeypox cases in San Diego county and another 19 listed as probable. One person has been hospitalized and there have been no deaths, according to county leaders.  

The county has already received almost 4,000 monkeypox vaccines and administered nearly 2,500. They are hoping more vaccines will be arriving soon.

Mayor Todd Gloria, Chair Nathan Fletcher and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, among others spoke during the afternoon briefing. Watch a replay of the briefing here.

Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday declared a State of Emergency for the state of California due to the monkeypox outbreak, making California the second state in three days to take the step. 

“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” said Gov. Newsom. “We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization.”

The proclamation is meant to bolster the state's response to monkeypox and help slow the spread of the disease. This includes efforts to seek additional vaccines and  lead education efforts on vaccines and treatment. It also enables Emergency Medical Services personnel to administer monkeypox vaccines that are approved by the FDA. 

According to the proclamation, California has been urging the federal government to make more vaccine doses available to the state so they could expand eligibility to confirmed and probable exposures and to those at risk of the virus.

Officials said the state has distributed more than 25,000 vaccine doses and will make more available in the coming days and weeks. 

In all, the state has received more than 61,000 doses of the vaccine.

There is no treatment approved specifically for monkeypox. But doctors at UC San Diego are able to use a drug for severe cases and they’re trying to get it approved for clinical trials.

The declaration means access to funding, access to more vaccines and a deployment of 14,000 treatments of an experimental drug to treat monkeypox. 

The drug is called Tecovirimat {Tea-co-veer-a-mat} or TPOXX. 

“It works on smallpox. But monkeypox and smallpox are closely related,” Dr. David Smith, UCSD.

Infections disease Dr. David Smith says if someone comes in with a severe case of monkeypox. He’s able to use TPOXX as an experimental drug on that person. 

“We wanted to have something we could treat smallpox for in case there was ever a problem like bio terrorism. So we have this drug that works for small pox but we don’t quite know if it works for people, that’s why we need to do those trials,” said Dr. Smith.

Monkeypox spreads through skin-on-skin contact but is not a sexually transmitted disease. It has affected more people in the LGBTQ community but not all. 

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, which are similar to the flu but also can include a rash.  

Dr. Smith says the public declaration and working together can help eradicate monkeypox, just like smallpox. 

In 1972 routine vaccinations of smallpox stopped. 

“The reason we were able to eradicate smallpox is we had the vaccine," Dr. Smith said. We have a vaccine we don’t have a lot of it but what we could do is use that little bit to make us all safer.”

About Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a viral infection that can spread through contact with body fluids, sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or from shared items (e.g., clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids from sores of a person with monkeypox.

The disease can also spread between people through saliva or respiratory droplets, typically between people in a prolonged close setting. Although monkeypox is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, it can be transmitted during sex through skin-to-skin and other intimate contact, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, including close contact that may not be necessarily sexual.

Monkeypox Symptoms

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to, but milder than, the signs and symptoms of smallpox, a related but extinct virus. They include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Rash

A rash usually develops within one to three days after the appearance of fever.  This rash can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Most people who develop monkeypox experience symptoms within seven to 14 days (and up to 21 days) after exposure.

Most people who become infected with monkeypox have a mild illness that improves without treatment over two to four weeks. Monkeypox is contagious and can spread to others once someone has symptoms from it and until scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed.

What People Should Do

Anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of monkeypox, including unusual rashes or lesions, should contact a healthcare provider right away or call 2-1-1 for more information.

You must have a rash, or spots, to get a monkeypox test. The monkeypox test is done on your skin with a swab at a clinic or health care provider. The swab is rubbed against spots on your skin, or parts of your rash, and then sent to a specialized lab for monkeypox testing. A preliminary lab test result is usually available within a few days.

Those waiting for results are asked to take steps to care for themselves and others. These include:

  • Stay home and away from others.
  • Put off travel on public transportation.
  • Contact your sex partner(s) and people you have had close contact with since the start of your symptoms.
  • Protect any pets.

Also consider using TellYourPartner.org to anonymously inform those you have had close contact with.

For more information on monkeypox, visit the County’s monkeypox website.

RELATED: Newsom declares State of Emergency due to monkeypox outbreak

RELATED: Yes, monkeypox can spread by trying on clothing or changing bed sheets

Watch Related: San Diego County Monkeypox briefing - Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

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