Local health officials respond to monkeypox concerns

With cases of monkeypox now identified in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, there has been speculation about the infection and its risk to the general public.

San Luis Obispo County public health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein says she doesn’t expect local case numbers to rise.
So far, one confirmed case has been identified in a county resident and says the man who contracted the virus was likely infected outside of San Luis Obispo County.

“We have investigated who the contacts are and provided them with preventive vaccines,” Dr Borenstein said.

However, she admits that due to limited supply, a monkeypox vaccine will not be available to everyone.

“We are very wisely making it available to those who have had direct contact with a known case,” she added.

Dr. Borenstein says the early symptoms of infection often mirror those of the common cold or flu, with one glaring exception.

“When the telltale rash occurs, that’s when it may be monkeypox and health care should be sought at that time,” Dr Borenstein said.

In the weeks since cases of monkeypox emerged across the country, studies show nearly one in five Americans fear contracting the virus, with many also fearing airborne spread of the infection.

But locals we spoke to say it will take many more than one case of monkeypox to heighten their concerns.

“If we start hearing about our neighbors quarantining, you see people with rashes coming in and out of Trader Joe’s, then we’ll start getting high,” said Arroyo Grande resident Jim Dowdall. .

“Well, if it starts to be an epidemic. It doesn’t seem to be now,” added Bing Kunzig, a resident of Nipomo.

Dr Borenstein also reassured those who might be worried about the spread and symptoms of Monkeypox.

“Although it can be painful, even if it can disrupt life for a few weeks, we are not seeing hospitalizations or deaths in the same way as we have seen for many other diseases,” he said. she stated. “The general public shouldn’t be too worried.”

Still, Dr. Borenstein advises the community to take precautions and seek medical attention when needed.

On Tuesday morning, Santa Barbara County public health officials provided the county board of supervisors with an update on the monkeypox outbreak there. There will now be a weekly virus update at these meetings.

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