Monkeypox disease
Monkeypox. Photo by Berkay Ataseven on Shutterbox

Orange County Thursday reported its first presumptive case of monkeypox.

Orange County authorities are awaiting confirmation of the case from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the meantime, local officials are presuming it is monkeypox and are performing contact tracing and working to prevent further infection for close contacts.

The Orange County Health Care Agency did not report when the patient contracted the virus, saying only that the person is in isolation.

“We consider it serious, and it is an ongoing investigation as to the extent of it in our county,” Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Chaffee said. “After that investigation we’ll let the public know how to combat it. When we have more information we’ll let the public know.”

The infection came to light earlier this week when a primary care physician suspected it and alerted the county’s Communicable Disease Control unit, one official said.

County officials are “working with all relevant agencies and partners to track, control, and curtail the spread of monkeypox within the county,” Dr. Christopher Zimmerman of the county’s communicable disease control division said in a statement. “The affected individual is already in isolation and exposed contacts are in the process to receive post-exposure prophylaxis vaccination.”

There have been 4,769 cases worldwide as of Tuesday. In the U.S. there have been 306 cases in 28 states.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced a vaccination strategy to address the spread of monkeypox.

County officials said monkeypox can spread through sexual contact and advised the public to be vigilant and if they suspect they have symptoms they should call their doctor, cover the rash with clothing, wear a mask and avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone else while also isolating from family members and pets.

The county has some vaccines available for anyone exposed to the virus.

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