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About Mpox (Monkeypox)
Mpox (previously called monkeypox) is a disease caused by a relative of the smallpox virus. Mpox 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 Mpox symptoms such as rash and sores.
Since May 2022, there has been an uptick in cases in parts of the world where Mpox does not usually occur, including here in California. While new cases have slowed since then, the virus is still circulating 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 Mpox to the general public remains low.
For up-to-date case information on the outbreak in California and general information about Mpox—including a detailed Q&A—see the California Department of Public Health Mpox information hub.
See the California Mpox Information Hub
Two cases of Mpox have been identified in San Luis Obispo County.
A vaccine can provide protection against Mpox and vaccine supply is now adequate, so everyone age 18+ who wants a vaccine can receive a vaccine.
The Public Health Department and The Center are able to provide vaccine by appointment to patients age 18+ who would like to receive vaccine. Patients do not need to attest to specific risk factors: just call and say you would like to get the Mpox vaccine.
If you are living with HIV, it’s especially important to get vaccine protection against MPox. While MPox infection can be painful and inconvenient for anyone, it can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening for people living with HIV.
Not sure if you should get vaccinated against Mpox? Talk with your health care provider or contact us to discuss your questions with a public health nurse. Vaccine is recommended for people who:
Anyone who would like to receive vaccine may schedule an appointment at:
The Center (San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande): Call 805-544-2478 (SLO) or 805-489-4026 (Arroyo Grande) or email [email protected]
Public Health Department (Grover Beach, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo): Call 805-781-5500.
Learn more about the vaccine
In addition to getting the vaccine, you can take steps to protect yourself from Mpox:
- Talk with 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.
- Postpone close, intimate, skin-to-skin contact with people who have Mpox symptoms like rashes or sores until sores have fully healed and a new layer of skin has formed.
- Avoid contact with unwashed items or fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing) used by someone who has Mpox symptoms like rashes or sores.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
- If you are caring for someone who has Mpox and is experiencing symptoms, use personal protective equipment like a mask, gown, eye protection, and gloves.
- If you have an unusual rash, with or without flu-like symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
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 Mpox 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 Mpox and coordinate testing and treatment if needed. Medication is available for severe cases and for individuals at risk of severe disease. Medication is also available to 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's Health Care Navigators.
The California Department of Public Health has released detailed guidance documents addressing Mpox. See State guidance.
Flyer (English and Spanish):
Subscribe to Receive Updates
To receive updates regarding monkeypox in SLO County, including vaccine information, subscribe to our Mpox Updates mailing list.
Information for Health Care Providers
World Health Organization: Surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing for mpox (monkeypox): interim guidance, 22 December 2022
CDC: Monkeypox Information For Healthcare Professionals
Includes Case Definition, Clinical Guidance, Clinician FAQs, Infection Control and more
CDC offers Mpox clinical consultation for healthcare providers 24/7 at 770-488-7100.
CDPH: Mpox Information for Health Care Providers
Includes Case Definition, Diagnosis and Reporting; Infection Control; Prevention and Management in Healthcare Settings; Treatment and more
CDPH: No Cost CDPH Mpox Clinical Consultations via Tele-Dermatology
CDPH is now providing a Tele-Dermatology consultation service for complex or persistent mpox cases. The service will be provided using a secure and encrypted HIPAA-compliant TeleDerm platform called MedWeb where a licensed and experienced dermatologist will review cases. Costs will be covered by the CDPH and, when needed, referrals for in-person dermatology care will be provided (costs for in-person care are not covered by CDPH). Healthcare providers should contact the local health jurisdiction in which the patient resides to provide a description of the case and provider contact information. CDPH will then help facilitate the TeleDerm consultation. To coordinate this consultation for a SLO County resident, contact us online or at 805-781-5500.
SLO County Public Health Laboratory: Specimen Collection & Transportation Instructions
In addition to these instructions, please keep in mind:
- Do not clean lesions prior to collection.
- Avoid using numbing gels or other creams prior to collection.
- Unroofing the lesion is no longer appropriate or needed.
- Swab lesions vigorously during sampling.
- Send swabs in a sterile container (dry swab, no VTM).
Testing is also available from commercial laboratories, including Aegis, ARUP Laboratories, Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare (WestPac Labs).
Specimens obtained from patients less than 18 years of age should be sent to the Public Health Lab rather than a private laboratory.
Treatment with Tecovirimat (TPOXX)
Tecovirimat (TPOXX) is approved by the FDA for treating smallpox disease in adults and children. While its use for Mpox is not currently approved by the FDA, it has been effective in treating Mpox. Tecovirimat is available for use in the treatment of Mpox through the CDC’s expanded access Investigational New Drug application (IND). Tecovirimat is recommended for the treatment of Mpox for patients with these conditions or considerations described by CDC. See CDPH Mpox Tecovirimat Treatment Information for Providers.
The Public Health Department has a small supply of Tecovirimat on hand.
Providers who wish to treat a patient for Mpox based upon the above criteria OR would like to become Tecovirimat providers in SLO County should contact Heidi Holmes-Nagy by email or at 805-781-5535. If this is an after-hours emergency, please call the Health Officer on duty at the phone number below.
To report suspected cases:
Call the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department as soon as possible. Call 805-781-5500 (M-F, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) or 805-781-4553 (weekends and after hours).