SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division said the county’s first suspected case of monkeypox has been identified in a local resident through testing at a California Reference Laboratory Network facility.

The infected patient is currently under the care of a medical provider, in isolation, and in good condition, health officials said. The county is awaiting test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm that the virus is monkeypox.

According to CDC, the risk to the general population from monkeypox is low, and the virus does not spread easily between people without close contact.

“We want to emphasize that this is not a disease that spreads easily through the air like COVID-19. However, we do want people who might have been exposed to watch for symptoms and to seek medical care if they develop symptoms,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said Wednesday.

“While most cases resolve on their own, monkeypox can be serious in rare cases, and we want to prevent further spread in the community,” Newel said.

Monkeypox can spread through activities that include intimate sexual contact, kissing, breathing at very close range, or sharing bedding and clothing. It appears as a distinctive rash or sores on the skin anywhere on the body, including in the genital area. It often begins as flu-like symptoms.

Individuals who may have been exposed to monkeypox, or who have symptoms, should immediately contact a health care provider for evaluation and guidance.

In neighboring Santa Clara County, health officials reported their county’s first probable monkeypox case on June 23. The infected person had recently traveled internationally, but Santa Clara County officials did not specify which country.

The virus is spreading in the United States and globally. The first case in the U.S. was confirmed on May 18.

Protect yourself from monkeypox

According to the CDC:

• Consider wearing a well-fitted mask and covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds.
• Don’t share bedding, clothing, and food or drink with others who exhibit symptoms of monkeypox.
• Talk with close physical contacts about their general health including recent rashes and sores.
• Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks.

If you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox, or if you have been in contact with
someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox, take the following steps:

• Cover the area of the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing.
• Wear a well-fitted mask.
• Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed.
• Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation.
• Assist public health officials to track others who may have been exposed.
• Inform sex partners and other close contacts of symptoms.