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Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus, a relative of the smallpox virus. Monkeypox usually causes a rash or sores—which can look like pimples, blisters, or an ingrown hair—and flu-like symptoms. It spreads primarily through close, intimate, often skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, with people who have monkeypox symptoms such as rash and sores.
Since May 2022, there has been an uptick in cases in parts of the world where monkeypox does not usually occur, including here in California.
The Public Health Department is closely following this issue, in coordination with the California Department of Public Health and CDC, and will provide updates as the situation evolves.
See Updates from CDC
While it's good to stay alert about any emerging public health outbreaks, the current risk of monkeypox to the general public remains low.
For up-to-date information on the outbreak in California and general information about monkeypox—including a detailed Q&A—see the California Department of Public Health monkeypox information hub.
See the California Monkeypox Information Hub
There have not been any cases reported in SLO County.
A vaccine can provide protection against monkeypox, but vaccine supply is currently very limited. The Public Health Department has received 20 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, which provides protection against monkeypox and smallpox. This small allocation of vaccine reflects an extremely limited national supply. We expect to receive a second smaller allocation in late summer, and a third allocation later in the fall as the vaccine supply gradually increases.
In accordance with state and national guidance, SLO County’s initial small allocation of vaccine will be prioritized for people who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox, and for laboratory workers who regularly handle the virus.
The vaccine is effective at preventing disease if a person receives it before being exposed to the virus, or after being exposed to the virus but before symptoms develop (post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP).
You may be eligible to receive vaccine if:
- You’ve been informed by a contact tracer or Public Health Department that you were in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
- You attended an event with lots of close personal contact and have been informed by a contact tracer or Public Health Department that a person at this event has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
- Someone you recently had close, personal contact with informed you they have been diagnosed with monkeypox and had symptoms at the time of your close contact.
- You work in a laboratory and handle monkeypox specimens.
- You are a health care provider or caregiver who cared for a symptomatic patient with monkeypox for an extended period of time and were not wearing full PPE (N95, eye protection, face shield, gown, and gloves) at the time of contact.
If you are in one of the situations described above, contact the County of SLO Public Health Department at 805-781-5500 or [email protected]. You will be connected confidentially with a Public Health nurse who will ask you about your experience and coordinate your vaccine if indicated.
If you receive a message from another health department that you have been exposed to monkeypox (for example, if you attended a large event in another area), you may also have the option to get the vaccine at that location. There is not a requirement that you get the vaccine in the county where you live.
Learn more about the vaccine
Until vaccine access expands, you can take steps to protect yourself from monkeypox:
- Talk with your close contacts, including sexual partners, about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained sores or rashes on your body or your partner’s body.
- Avoid close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact with people who have monkeypox symptoms like rashes or sores.
- Avoid contact with unwashed items or fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing, dishes) used by someone who has monkeypox symptoms like rashes or sores.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
- If you are caring for someone who has monkeypox and is experiencing symptoms, use appropriate PPE (like a mask, gown, eye protection, and gloves).
Learn more about how to protect yourself
When to Seek Care
Anyone who has an unusual rash (with or without flu-like symptoms) and is concerned about monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider for an evaluation and follow-up care. This is especially important if they may have had close personal contact with someone who had a rash, or attended a large event with lots of close contact.
Your healthcare provider can conduct a risk assessment for monkeypox and coordinate testing and treatment if needed. While most cases of monkeypox in this outbreak have been mild, medication is available for severe cases and can help with pain management if needed.
If you do not have a healthcare provider or don’t know where to start, contact the Public Health Department at 805-781-5500 or [email protected].
Subscribe to Receive Updates
To receive updates regarding monkeypox in SLO County, including vaccine information, subscribe to our Monkeypox Updates mailing list.
Information for Health Care Providers
Recent provider advisories:
For more resources on monkeypox for health care providers, visit: