BY ANGELA GONZALEZ
Merced County has now become one of the nearly 40 counties within California to have recently felt the threat of monkeypox, as health officials announced the first confirmed case within the area on Sept. 6.
The case has been confirmed in an individual who has, since being diagnosed, been described as healthy and recovering in the isolation of their own home, while all people in contact with the individual have been provided vaccinations in order to minimize any risks that may come with the infection.
Monkeypox is a virus that can be spread through being in close proximity to other people which includes skin-to-skin contact. Also, though at less frequent rates, the virus may also be spread through non-direct human contact such as with touching articles of clothing or other fabric based materials that have been used by infected individuals and animals.
Similar to the flu, symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion. Also, an individual that is infected with this virus may develop sores or a rash. The sores may take on the appearance of blisters or pimples with the stages of turning into scabs, before healing. This illness can last for two to four weeks.
To protect yourself and others from contracting monkeypox:
● Avoid being in close proximity, specifically skin-to skin contact with individuals who have signs of a rash that looks to be in accordance to rashes found in monkey pox
● Communicate with past and current partners in regards to whether they or you are experiencing any of the symptoms of the virus.
● Do not physically touch articles of fabric that have been in contact with someone that has been diagnosed with monkey pox
● Remember to practice healthy hygiene and wash your hands often with water and soap or use a hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based
● If you or someone you have been in close contact with has been diagnosed with monkey pox in the last 21 days, then contact your healthcare provider to be tested
● If you have any symptoms, including an active rash, avoid being in close proximity with people or pets.
People who contract the virus typically recover within two to four weeks, and most do not reach the point of needing hospitalization. However, for those who are immunocompromised, children, people with a history of eczema, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the disease can be serious.
Throughout the end of June the Biden -Harris Administration had declared the first phase of their national monkey pox vaccine strategy, which first provided vaccines to people who fall under the category of being at high risk. This phase’s goal is to rapidly give out vaccines in more affected communities in order to suppress the spread of the virus.
Individuals who have symptoms of the virus and are visiting their healthcare providers should first notify their provider of their concern regarding the disease and if they had had any contact with someone who had a similar rash to an individual who has been diagnosed with the virus.
If you are ever confused regarding any aspect of the virus and, most importantly, have been in contact with someone who has contracted monkey pox, contact your healthcare provider for the next steps.