Utahns who are traveling to West or Central Africa soon — or plan to go to countries that recently have reported monkeypox cases — should consider making an appointment with a travel medicine clinic, Salt Lake County health officials advise.
The guidance came Monday as county health officials announced probable cases of monkeypox in two adults from the same Salt Lake County household. The adults had traveled to an area of Europe earlier this month that has since reported monkeypox cases, and they developed symptoms afterward.
There are currently no U.S. travel restrictions to areas in Africa where the rare disease is considered endemic, as well as to other international destinations where monkeypox has recently been reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued a “level two″ alert for monkeypox in such destinations, which calls for “enhanced travel precautions” but no limitations, advising that “risk to the general public is low.”
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, said there is “no reason to limit your travel” to such destinations.
“Again, these are a handful of cases in each of the countries,” Dunn said. “But it is important to be aware that if you are having close contact with individuals, that that might present an extra risk to monkeypox.”
Utah travel clinics
A travel clinic can help people ensure that they are current on recommended immunizations for travel and are educated about potential health risks at their destinations, county health officials said.
The Salt Lake County Health Department Travel Clinic recommends Utahns schedule a visit as soon as they know they’ll be traveling internationally — “because some immunizations require more than one shot spread over a period of time, and others require time before travel to be most effective,” it notes.
• The Salt Lake County travel clinic is located in Salt Lake City at 610 S. 200 East, on the first floor. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and visits require an appointment, which can be made by calling 385-468-4111.
• University of Utah Health’s Travel Clinic, based at University Hospital, says it’s the most comprehensive travel medicine and immunization clinic in the state. Appointments can be made by calling 801-581-2898. Patients are asked to fill out an online survey about their travel plans before their appointment.
• The Utah Department of Health and Human Services offers a list of regional travel clinics, which includes both additional county clinics and private clinics and offices.
• The Davis County Health Department’s International Travel Clinic requires appointments, which are available at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. as well as at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. at two locations: Bountiful, 596 W. 750 South (open Tuesdays and Thursdays); and Clearfield, 22 South State St., (open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). To make an appointment, call 801-525-5020.
• The Utah County Health Department has travel clinics in Provo, American Fork and Payson. Visits may take about two hours or longer depending on where you intend to travel, your current vaccination status and how many travelers are in your group. Most vaccines need to be administered at least two weeks before departure, but some, which are administered in a series, can take one to six months to complete.
The Provo clinic is located at 151 South University Ave., Suite 1900, and is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can reach the clinic at 801-851-7025.
The American Fork clinic is located at 599 S. 500 East and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can reach the clinic at 801-851-7331.
The Payson clinic is located at 285 N. 1250 East (on the third floor of the Wasatch Mental Health Building) and is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 to 11:30 a.m., then 1 to 3 p.m. It is closed Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can reach the clinic at 801-851-7351.
The most important precautions travelers can take to prevent monkeypox are hand-washing, avoiding contact with animals and avoiding close contact with people who have symptoms of illness, Salt Lake County health officials advised Monday.
According to the World Health Organization, the countries where monkeypox is endemic are Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified in animals only), Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan.
But health officials have recently identified cases in countries throughout Europe and North America, as well as in Australia.
Monkeypox symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes, according to a county news release.
People infected with monkeypox often develop a rash, usually first on the face, which then turn into fluid-filled bumps called “pox.” Infection can last between two and four weeks.
It usually takes about seven to 14 days for an infected person to begin showing symptoms, but that period can range from five to 21 days. “Infected people are not contagious before they show symptoms,” officials said in the news release.
How it spreads
Monkeypox generally does not spread through casual contact, Salt Lake County officials advised. Human-to-human transmission generally occurs through direct contact with bodily fluids, including monkeypox lesions. It can also occur through about three hours or more of “prolonged, close face-to-face contact,” they said.
There is currently no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, however — limited available evidence indicates that smallpox treatments may be useful, officials said. Most people recover with no treatment.
For more information about monkeypox, visit CDC.gov/monkeypox.
— Tribune staff writers Scott D. Pierce and Paighten Harkins contributed to this report.