Multiple traces of monkeypox detected in Bay Area wastewater in the last week, officials say

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ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Bay Area health officials hope to stay ahead of a monkeypox outbreak by testing the wastewater, as they detected several traces this week.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As monkeypox continues to spread, Tuesday the CDC took a step further to respond to this outbreak.

In the press release the agency said, they are activating the Emergency Operations Center.

"The activation of the EOC allows the agency to further increase operational support for the response to meet the outbreak's evolving challenges."

Meaning more eyes will be on this virus. In the Bay Area, several monkeypox cases have been detected in the last week.

VIDEO: What is monkeypox? What to know about virus, symptoms, spread as US confirms 1st 2022 case

"Of the last eight days, four days we've had samples that are positive for monkeypox in an area that is the west side of San Francisco where we are monitoring," said Marlene Wolfe, principal investigator of the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network.

The Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network team has been monitoring wastewater samples for COVID, but now they are also processing samples for monkeypox in hopes to stay ahead of a potential community outbreak

"We are looking at the monkeypox virus DNA so genetic markers of the virus. Not the infectious monkeypox virus but the presence of that marker in the wastewater," said Wolfe.

Last night they confirmed the first detection of Monkeypox in Santa Clara County. In a statement the county said:

"Monkeypox virus has been detected in wastewater from one sewer shed in Santa Clara County. At this time, one confirmed case of monkeypox has been reported in Santa Clara County in an individual who had recently travelled internationally, announced last Thursday. The Public Health Department is working to build awareness among providers to diagnose cases, to provide testing, and to perform contact investigations. A vaccine for monkeypox is available and recommended for people with known high risk exposures."

RELATED: US in process of releasing monkeypox vaccine from national stockpile for 'high-risk' people: CDC

"Among people who are infected that there is viral shedding that happens. So in various ways through the lesions that happen through oral secretion, through urine and feces likely the virus ends up in the environment and can end up in wastewater," said Wolfe.

UCSF's infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Monica Gandhi has previously explained that men who have sex with men are at higher risk of this virus.

"From close contact. Skin to skin. The close respiratory contact that occurs during sex. People just need to be alert for these particular lesions, the fever, big lymph nodes so that we can treat it," said Dr. Gandhi.

VIDEO: CDC releases new details about how monkeypox virus spreads, what to keep in mind

California has the highest number of monkeypox detections in the country with 62 cases. Multiple cases confirmed in San Francisco.

On Tuesday, San Francisco's Department of Public Health said they received hundreds of vaccines for monkeypox.

"SFDPH has received the Jynneos vaccine from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to distribute to counties for preventative use in people who are identified as close contacts. We received an initial 60 doses during the first week of June and have received an additional 300 doses since then. We have been approved to receive another 200 doses later this week. SFDPH will continue to work with the state to procure additional vaccines and is formulating a plan to prioritize individuals with more risk factors for the vaccine.

We are also setting up a system to administer the vaccine efficiently and equitably in SFDPH-affiliated locations and are working with health system partners on vaccine administration through those private networks as supplies increase."

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