Monkeypox: What You Need To Know
Monkeypox cases are rising across the country. As of August 8, there are more than 600 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Los Angeles County and at least 7,100 cases in the United States. The good news is that for people who meet certain criteria, access to monkeypox vaccines is expanding. Los Angeles County now has just over 40,000 doses available, some of which are being offered to eligible Facey patients.
Our clinics, and urgent care locations have protocols in place to prevent and respond to infectious diseases and outbreaks, and safety remains our top priority. Monkeypox spreads mostly through close contact with body fluids and open skin lesions. However, you can minimize your risk as you would with most viruses.
- Keep distance from anyone who is suspected or known to be infected with monkeypox.
- Avoid contact with clothing, bedding or other materials that have been in contact with someone with monkeypox.
- Wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between hand washing.
What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a rare disease that does not usually occur in the United States. The virus causes symptoms similar to but milder than those of smallpox, which was declared eradicated in 1980. Human-to-human transmission of monkeypox generally occurs through direct contact with skin lesions, bodily fluids or contaminated items, such as sheets or clothing, that have been in contact with fluids or sores of an infected person. After exposure, symptoms typically appear in five to 21 days and include:
- A rash that may look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
The severity and location of the rash can vary. Most cases of monkeypox last two to four weeks and do not require hospital admission.
Remember, monkeypox is still a rare disease and many of the prevention measures we’ve learned during the coronavirus pandemic will continue to provide protection from this virus, too. If you believe you might have monkeypox, you should contact your primary care doctor, who can assess your symptoms and possible exposure. PCR monkeypox testing is currently available at Facey Medical Group offices through our lab partner, Quest. If you test positive for monkeypox, follow these isolation guidelines to prevent the spread of this disease.
If you live in L.A. county and meet the eligibility criteria you may go to one of the walk up clinics or you may sign up online to pre-register for vaccination. Those needing help with registration can call 2-1-1 for assistance. Monkeypox vaccines are not available at any Facey offices.
Monkeypox vaccine is available to gay or bisexual men and transgender persons 18 years of age and older who:
- Had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for shelter, food and other goods and needs)
Public Health is also directly communicating with the following groups to provide vaccination:
- People who have had high- or intermediate-risk contact with someone with monkeypox (as defined by CDC and confirmed by Public Health).
- People who attended an event or venue where there was high risk of exposure through skin-to-skin or sexual contact to individual(s) with monkeypox. (Public Health will work with event/venue organizers to identify persons who may have been present and at risk of exposure).
- Persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) with high-risk behaviors.
- People in high-risk cohorts identified by clinical staff in the LA County Jail system.
If you are immunocompromised (including if you have advanced or uncontrolled HIV), you may be at high risk for severe disease and will be prioritized for vaccination.