Orange County reports its first suspected case of monkeypox

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

The Orange County Health Care Agency on Thursday announced its first presumptive case of monkeypox in the county, assuring residents the individual is being isolated while officials await confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Christopher Zimmerman, a physician with the agency’s Communicable Disease Control Division, said his team is working across agencies to track, control and curtail the possible spread of monkeypox countywide.

“The affected individual is already in isolation, and exposed contacts are in the process to receive post exposure prophylaxis vaccination,” Zimmerman said in a statement Thursday.

Agency officials are conducting contact tracing and post-exposure prevention for close contacts of the potentially infected person.

County health officials did not say in which city the patient resides, nor where the individual may have been exposed to the communicable disease, but Zimmerman confirmed by email the individual “had a rash that was considered compatible with monkeypox” and met epidemiologic criteria provided by the CDC.

Citing the protection of patient confidentiality, Zimmerman would not comment on whether the person may have recently traveled or been exposed locally to the disease. The person was isolating safely at home Thursday, the physician added.

Los Angeles County recorded its first suspected infection on June 2, indicating an adult had traveled domestically prior to exhibiting symptoms. Since then, an additional 29 probable or confirmed cases have been identified by L.A. County’s Public Health Department.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 89 cases of monkeypox in California, according to an online database maintained by the CDC, and a total of 411 cases observed across 28 states nationwide as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Symptoms, typically seen seven to 14 days after exposure, may be flu-like and include fever, fatigue and enlarged lymph nodes and may be accompanied by a rash. In some instances, rash symptoms are observed first, particularly in the genital area or in or around the anus.

It can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs or body fluids, through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, including kissing, cuddling or sex, or from touching items that previously touched an infected rash or body fluids, according to the CDC.

Pregnant people may also potentially spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta. The illness typically lasts from two to four weeks.

Confirmation on whether or not the affected person is infected with monkeypox is anticipated within a week, the O.C. Health Care Agency estimated Thursday.

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4:07 p.m. June 30, 2022: This story was updated to reflect updated daily infection totals provided by the CDC as well as additional details provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency.