Experts say smallpox vaccine can help fight monkeypox

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on monkeypox.

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ByNic Garcia via KFSN logo
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
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Smallpox and monkeypox belong to the same family of viruses, so if you are protected against one, you are protected against the other, doctors say.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Monkeypox is usually rarely found in the United States, but the country currently has 5,811 cases of the virus. 827 of them are in California.

To help combat the spike, on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on monkeypox.

The declaration will make vaccines more readily available, increasing the state's stockpile.

RELATED: Newsom declares state of emergency in CA for monkeypox, plans to amp up response

One of the vaccines being used is the one used to prevent smallpox.

Experts say smallpox and monkeypox belong to the same family of viruses, so if you are protected against one virus, you are protected against the other.

In Mariposa County, there are still no known cases of monkeypox. But Monday's announcement means it's time.

"Once we identify a case, then have that network in place to do the contact tracing. That's probably the most similar thing to COVID is our ability to do case investigation and contact tracing," says Eric Sergienko with Mariposa County Public Health.

But there are key differences between COVID and monkeypox.

A person needs to be displaying symptoms and be in very close contact to another person to spread it, and there is already treatment for it.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines

Experts say the medication for smallpox can treat monkeypox and they're able to prescribe it because of emergency-use authorization.

The majority of people getting monkeypox in the US have been men who have sex with men, but experts want to remind you - anyone can contract the virus.

So remember to wash your hands regularly, mask in crowded places, and avoid close contact with anybody with an unexplained rash.