An electron microscope image of the monkeypox virion obtained from samples in 2003. Credit: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery, Wikimedia Commons Credit: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery

The Berkeley Health Department said this week that it has confirmed six unrelated cases of monkeypox in the city, and the individuals are safely isolating at home.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that mainly spreads through prolonged physical contact and can result in rashes that look like blisters or pimples. The Alameda County Health Department has confirmed 32 cases in Alameda County as of Tuesday, among 356 in California and about 2,000 nationwide. Berkeley’s six cases bring the county’s total to 38 cases.

Vaccination campaigns are ongoing in Berkeley and throughout the county. Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez said last week that more vaccines are on the way after initial supplies dwindled quickly. Currently, they are only being offered at targeted vaccine clinics for anyone at high risk of being exposed to the virus.

People are eligible for the vaccine currently if they meet the following criteria, according to Alameda County:

  • Close contact of someone suspected/confirmed with monkeypox
  • Self-report as a close contact of someone who has suspected/confirmed monkeypox
  • Receive notification from a venue or event of potential exposure to someone who has suspected/confirmed monkeypox
  • A laboratory worker who routinely handles monkeypox virus samples for diagnosis or testing purposes
  • A healthcare professional who has been identified with a high-risk/intermediate risk occupational exposure to someone who is confirmed with monkeypox, according to the CDC exposure risk assessment

The Berkeley Health Department recommended the following tips to stay safe and avoid transmission. More information is available on the Alameda County Public Health Department website.

  • Consider covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds
  • Don’t share bedding or clothing with others when possible
  • Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores
  • Stay aware if traveling to countries where there are outbreaks
  • When around people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox, avoid:
    • close, skin-to-skin contact, such as through kissing, hugging, cuddling, or sex;
    • sharing bedding, clothing, or utensils.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Correction: The headline originally said Berkeley had six of the 32 cases countywide. The city and county health departments report numbers independently, and the six Berkeley cases are in addition to the county’s 32, bringing the total to 38.

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...