California releases new monkeypox guidance, as virus continues to spread in the state

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The California Department of Public Health released updated guidelines Friday in response to the increased spread of the MPX virus, also known as monkeypox.

The virus is transmissible from the moment symptoms present to the moment that all MPX lesions have fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed at the lesion sites, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Monkeypox can be spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with lesions or scabs, or with bodily fluids such as drainage from skin lesions or saliva that was in contact with oral lesions. It also can be spread by touching items that previously touched lesions or bodily fluids from those infected.

“We are still learning about the likelihood of person-to-person transmission of MPX virus through each of these routes. However, it is thought that the most common route of transmission during the 2022 global MPX outbreak is direct (i.e., skin-to-skin) contact with MPX lesions, including but not limited to contact that occurs during sexual activity and close contact within households,” according to a state memo.

Those, particularly at risk for the virus, include children younger than 8, people with skin conditions such as eczema, immunocompromised people, and those pregnant or breastfeeding.

“In the current outbreak, more than 98% of people with monkeypox have been adults and have not required hospitalization. The West African MPX virus is the cause of the current outbreak and historically this virus has an approximately 1% fatality rate, particularly among people who do not have a fully functioning immune system,” according to the memo.

There have been no reported monkeypox deaths in the United States, though a small number of deaths have been reported in other countries.

People who are diagnosed with MPX, or who suspect they have it, are encouraged to isolate themselves at home until at least 48 hours pass with no fever, respiratory symptoms or new lesions, and any lesions that cannot be covered (such as those on the face) are fully healed.

Additional public health guidance is available on the CDPH’s website.