Monkeypox

The Pima County Health Department announced its first probable case of monkeypox during a July 12 press conference. Arizona’s first reported case was reported more than a month ago in Maricopa County.

Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said the infected person has been isolated and Pima County epidemiological staff are working on contact tracing.

The case is still under review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is believed to be considered low risk to the general population. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends watching for early monkeypox symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and/or exhaustion. A rash or sores can also appear before, after or during symptoms. Antiviral treatment is available upon infection. Consultation with a health care provider is recommended if early monkeypox symptoms are exhibited.

“The most common route of transmission is skin to skin,” Cullen said. “You can transmit monkeypox by having direct skin to skin contact with a lesion.”

Until lesions are 100% scabbed, which takes between 14 and 21 days, people are infectious. Cullen said the chances of an individual becoming infected with monkeypox without having direct contact with an infected person are miniscule.

“Arizona has one confirmed and seven other probable cases pending confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all of them in Maricopa County,” said Arizona Department of Health Services statement.

Maricopa, Coconino and Pima counties will become “hubs” for monkeypox vaccine distribution.

Pima County will receive about 100 vaccines for monkeypox treatment by Thursday, July 14. The vaccines are a two-dose series and individuals who consider themselves at risk can enroll on a Pima County website. The website will ask for demographic information, and a county representative will call to assess if the individual is at risk and requires a vaccine.

Those who share sheets, towels or unwashed clothing with those who have been infected are at risk. There is a slight chance of contact with prolonged respiratory secretions and face-to-face contact over four to six hours, Cullen said.

Men who have sex with men have been found to be the highest risk group for monkeypox, but not all cases that have been identified as such.

Although no one in the United States has died from monkeypox, a few individuals have been hospitalized primarily due to side effects such as secondary skin infection. 

Individuals who believe they are at risk for monkeypox should reach out to their primary care providers or epidemiologists at the northside Pima County Public Health Clinic. For more information about monkeypox visit, pima.gov.

Coronavirus in Pima County

Coronavirus is in a stage of accelerated transmission.

“The vast majority of our COVID right now is the BA.5 variant,” Cullen said. “We are seeing a resurgence of respiratory symptoms.” 

Reported cases fluctuate between BA.4 and BA.5 variants, the BA.5 being more predominant. 

Pima County recommends vaccinations and two booster shots. Officials also said to wear masks in public or social settings.

Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are eligible to receive treatment at the Pima County Health Department’s Test To Treat program located at its East Clinic, 6920 E. Broadway Boulevard. The program launched over two and a half weeks ago in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and provides testing and access to antiviral medications for COVID-19 at no cost. Health insurance is not required. The oral medications, Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Lagevrio, are available and effective against COVID-19. 

For more information about the coronavirus, monkey pox or the Pima County Health Department Test to Treat program visit, pima.gov. Visit pima.gov/covid19testing to find testing locations in Pima County.

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