Riverside County declares public health emergency over monkeypox

Riverside County health officials on Monday declared a public health emergency in response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak. 

"We have seen the devastating physical effects of Monkeypox on those who have been infected, as well as the emotional toll on partners, family and loved ones," said Riverside County Public Health Officer Geoffrey Leung. "Now is the time for Public Health, our community partners and local leadership to reinforce our commitment to work together to slow and eventually stop the spread of this virus." 

To date, Riverside County has reported 59 probable/confirmed monkeypox cases. No deaths have been reported.

Riverside joins Los Angeles County, as well as the city of Long Beach in declaring a public health emergency in response to the rising number of monkeypox cases. 

Monkeypox generally spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Contact includes prolonged intimate interactions and sharing of infected bedding or clothing. If you have sex or intimate physical contact with many people, the risk of contracting monkeypox is higher, health officials say.

Individuals with monkeypox may spread the virus through:

  • Respiratory secretions through prolonged face-to-face interactions (the type that mainly happen when living with someone or caring for someone who has monkeypox);
  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with rash lesions or infectious sores/scabs;
  • Sexual/intimate contact, including kissing, hugging, massaging and cuddling;
  • Living in a house and sharing a bed with someone; and
  • Sharing towels or unwashed clothing.

People with monkeypox sometimes develop a flu-like illness with fever, fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes followed by a rash. In other instances, people just develop a rash which can occur on the genitals or other areas of the body. People usually develop monkeypox seven to 14 days (and up to 21 days) after being exposed.

Most people with monkeypox have a mild illness that improves without treatment over two to four weeks. Treatment is supportive and focused on easing the symptoms of the illness. Monkeypox is contagious and spreads easily to others until scabs have fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed. Monkeypox is not spread through casual brief conversations or walking by someone (like in a grocery store).

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency as part of California's response to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.

To prevent the spread of monkeypox, PPHD recommends:

  • Avoiding close physical contact with people who have symptoms, including sores or rashes;
  • Talking to your sexual partner(s) about any recent illness and being aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes;
  • Avoiding contact with contaminated materials;
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (i.e., mask, gloves, gown) if you cannot avoid close contact with someone who has symptoms;
  • Practicing good hand hygiene;
  • Speaking to your healthcare provider about getting tested if you have symptoms; and
  • Staying in isolation until you are no longer considered infectious per public health guidance.