San Diego County's local health emergency for mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) expired on Nov. 10, 2022 as new cases decreased significantly. In August, local leaders and public health officials had declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mpox is a rare disease and is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Mpox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and mpox is rarely fatal. Mpox is not related to chickenpox.
Experts say this sudden increase, after months of minimal occurrences, is due to low vaccination rates and the need for heightened awareness.
Public health officials Tuesday urged at-risk people to get a vaccination against the virus, following a cluster of cases in the Chicago area.
Public health officials said testing wastewater for diseases is the future tool for surveillance.
Cases of Mpox, which was previously named monkeypox, peaked in August and fell steadily over the past months to a daily average of seven new cases by the end of November.
"Removing 'monkey' removes the stigma that monkeypox comes with," an expert tells NPR. But he questions why the World Health Organization will wait a year for the change to take full effect.
San Diego County's local health emergency for monkeypox expired Thursday as new cases have decreased significantly.
Mpox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. Know the symptoms of mpox and when to contact a healthcare professional.
Mpox can spread from the time symptoms start until all sores have healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.
Mpox spreads primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, hugging, massaging, and cuddling. Mpox can spread through touching materials used by a person with mpox that haven't been cleaned, such as clothing and bedding. It can also spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, close, face-to-face contact.
Mpox can be spread through:
- Direct skin-skin contact with rash lesions
- Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing
- Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone
- Sharing utensils, cups, towels or unwashed clothing
- Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has mpox)
Mpox is NOT spread through:
- Casual brief conversations
- Walking by someone with mpox, like in a grocery store
There are number of ways to prevent the spread of mpox, including:
- Always talking to your sexual partner/s about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner's body, including on the genitals and anus
- Avoiding close contact, including sex, with people with symptoms like sores or rashes
- Practicing good hand hygiene
- Using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (like a mask, gown, and gloves) when caring for others with symptoms
- Avoiding contact with infected materials contaminated with the virus
- Avoiding contact with infected animals
Diagnosis and isolation
If you have a new or an unexplained rash or other symptoms, avoid crowds, close contact with others, and seek medical care for further testing and evaluation. If you do not have a health care provider or healthcare insurance, contact your local health department about any available resources. You may also contact the Department of Healthcare Services for more available resources.
Contact your healthcare provider to get tested when you have a rash.
- You must have a rash with fluid-filled lesions similar to blisters to get an MPOX test.
- The MPOX test is done on your skin with a swab at a clinic by a health care provider. The swab is rubbed against lesions on your skin, or parts of your rash, and then sent to a specialized lab for MPOX testing.
- A lab test result should be available in a few days. While you are waiting, be sure to take steps to care for yourself and others:
- Stay home and away from others, including pets.
- Let partner(s) and close contact(s) know you are having symptoms.
Where to get vaccinated?
Appointments can be scheduled using the California Department of Public Health's MyTurn website.
Who should get vaccinated?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to mpox and people who may be more likely to get mpox, including:
- People who may have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with mpox; or
- People who know one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with mpox; or
- People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known mpox.
Based on CDC and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance, the County of San Diego is currently prioritizing vaccination for:
- People who have been identified by known cases as intimate or otherwise close contacts of a person diagnosed with mpox.
- Those who have been intimate or otherwise had skin-to-skin contact with a person who has a mpox-like rash.