SAN DIEGO – San Diego County leaders and public health experts hosted a virtual town hall Thursday on the monkeypox virus.
Several doctors and experts were part of the panel, which also took questions from the public.
“It’s up to us to come together and create safety nets in our community,” said Mickie Lockner, the chair of the San Diego HIV Planning Group.
During the virtual town hall, doctors educated the public about the virus. They said monkeypox is a rare disease that is harder to transmit than COVID-19. Doctors said the virus appears as a rash that usually starts with bumps on the face but can start on the genitals.
Health experts said the virus is spread through prolonged direct skin-to-skin contact through large respiratory droplets and by sharing contaminated bedding or towels, unlike COVID-19, which can also be spread through airborne droplets.
If a person has been exposed, it is recommended to be vaccinated within 14 days, isolate and test, according to health authorities. Doctors said that if a person becomes infected with monkeypox to isolate, stay at home and monitor symptoms and be treated with an antiviral drug.
Health experts have said some exposed activities include sex, kissing, hugging or cuddling without clothes and sharing sex toys. Doctors say the best way to avoid getting monkeypox is to reduce the number of sex partners, talk to your partner, limit skin-to-skin contact and know the signs and symptoms.
The virus has been found in semen, but doctors have said there is no evidence yet that the virus is sexually transmitted.
Currently, San Diego County has 121 cases as of Thursday, an increase of 17 cases from Wednesday.
During the town hall, the county said the cases have all been men, between 21 and 62 years old, although the virus can infect anyone.
“The rash itself is contagious, but sometimes individuals may not know they’ve come in contact with that rash. It’s really important in prevention efforts to talk to your partner to look at your partner and discuss whether they had the rash or recent illness,” said Dr. Ankita Kadakia, San Diego County’s deputy public health officer.
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