Officials with County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency said two probable cases of monkeypox have been detected among county residents.
The cases, which are being forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation, are unrelated to each other, officials said, adding that both of the people infected had recently traveled internationally. While both showed symptoms of the virus, they are "doing well," as the county said. Neither has been hospitalized.
Officials said the two people who were infected are being isolated.
“We have seen an increasing number of cases of the monkeypox virus across the world and in the U.S. in recent weeks, so our public health department was prepared for possible local cases,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Overall, the risk of monkeypox to the general population remains very low.”
Multiple cases of the illness have been detected in Los Angeles County, but the cases discussed Wednesday by San Diego officials are the first possibly detected in the county.
Concerns over monkeybox were elevated in May because of cases that have popped up in unusual locations, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal. Monkeypox is usually found in parts of Africa. Cases in Europe and the U.S. are rare.
"The current monkeypox situation is constantly evolving and subject to change," the California Department of Public Health said after a case was reported in Sacramento last month. "CDPH is closely monitoring monkeypox transmission in the U.S. and California to ensure rapid identification of cases. The risk of monkeypox to the public is currently very low based on the information available."
Here's what to know about the disease rarely seen outside Africa.
What Is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.
The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.
What Are Monkeypox Symptoms?
Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.
Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.
The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks. Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.
Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.
People exposed to the virus are often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Anti-viral drugs are also being developed.
On Thursday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended all suspected cases be isolated and that high-risk contacts be offered the smallpox vaccine.