BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Kern County Public Health Services Department has reported an uptick in confirmed cases of monkeypox in the county. In September, there were 7 cases reported and that number has now more than doubled to 18 cases as of October 7th.
According to the California Department of Public Health, monkeypox is a rare disease. The virus that causes monkeypox is in the same biological genus as both the smallpox virus and the vaccinia virus used to make smallpox vaccine.
While monkeypox is both less severe and less transmissible than smallpox, it can be spread from infected humans, infected or contaminated animals, and can live long enough on surfaces to be spread through cross-contamination.
A monkeypox infection will look very much like a flu infection at first, with fatigue, fever, swollen glands, and body aches. Within a week of first running a fever, most people infected with monkeypox will develop a rash. The rash can look like pimples or blisters, and can take several weeks to heal.
Cases of monkeypox where there was a rash but no fever, or a fever but no rash have been reported, but in most cases, people who are infected will develop both.
While most monkeypox infections are mild and heal up without requiring any treatment, some people will have a severe reaction to the illness. Children, seniors, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with impaired immunity or a history of skin disorders like eczema may be at risk for more severe illness. Antiviral drugs like TPOXX (tecovirimat) can be used to treat monkeypox.
Doctors, health system administrators, and public health authorities recommend vaccination for anyone who is concerned about contracting monkeypox. The monkeypox vaccine is safe and effective, but because the risk to the general public remains low at this time, supplies are limited. You may have to make an appointment with your physician to obtain one.
In response to the virus, Kern Public Health is holding monkeypox vaccination clinics. The next one takes place at the Richard Prado East Bakersfield Senior Center on Ridge Road in Bakersfield next Wednesday, October 19th, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. There will be another one at the same location the Wednesday after that, October 26th.
Monkeypox vaccinations will available by appointment to those who meet certain eligibility requirements. To review the requirements and make an appointment, visit the Kern County Public Health Services Department monkeypox page.