L.A. County reports first suspected monkeypox case

A nurse prepares materials for monkeypox testing at a hospital in Madrid.
A nurse prepares materials for monkeypox testing at a hospital in Madrid. L. A. County announced its first suspected case of monkeypox on Thursday.
(Carlos Lujan / Getty Images)

Los Angeles County on Thursday announced its first suspected case of monkeypox while stressing the health risks of the disease are still low.

“The patient is an adult resident who recently traveled and had a known close contact to a case. Although the patient is symptomatic, they are doing well and not hospitalized. They are isolated from others,” county health officials said in a statement. “Public Health is continuing to investigate and conduct contact tracing and post-exposure prevention for close contacts.”

The infected person traveled domestically recently, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.


Officials are awaiting confirmation of the case from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California marked its first suspected case last week, in a person in Sacramento County. The person, who recently traveled to Europe, is isolating at home and isn’t in contact with other people, officials said at the time. The case was later confirmed by the CDC. Since then, two close contacts of the original patient have contracted the disease.

To the public, the monkeypox outbreak has echoes of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But scientists say it’s not the same at all.

May 28, 2022

There are 21 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox in the U.S., including the four in California, according to the CDC.

“Am I worried that we’re going to have a massive outbreak of monkeypox? No, there’s no indication at this time that that is sort of a realistic worry,” Ferrer said. Still, “as always, we need to be prepared for seeing more cases.”

Symptoms can include a flu-like illness with fever, fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes, and then a rash; sometimes, a rash appears first. In some cases in the current outbreak, during the early stages of illness, the rash has been mostly in the genital area and in or around the anus.

Monkeypox rash on a person's arm and torso
This 1997 image provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the right arm and torso of a patient with lesions due to an active case of monkeypox.
(CDC via AP)

It generally takes seven to 14 days for a person to develop symptoms after being exposed to monkeypox, but it can take up to 21 days.

Officials emphasize that monkeypox can affect anyone, including healthcare workers and family members caring for those sick with the illness.

Many of the people infected in the current global outbreak identify as gay or bisexual, experts said. Though one World Health Organization expert suggested in an interview with the Associated Press that the recent spread may have been associated with sexual behavior at two raves in Spain and Belgium, some cases may have preceded those events.

Some of those believed to have monkeypox in the United States had traveled at the end of April and showed their first symptoms in early May.

Monkeypox is nowhere near as contagious as COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses. Among humans, it can be transmitted through sustained skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active rash.

It’s also plausible that it can be transmitted through respiratory droplets among those with lesions in their mouth and throat who are around another person for an extended period of time. But spread of monkeypox through the air is not thought to be a major source of transmission.