Health officials in Los Angeles County, California, have issued a warning after the county witnessed a "concerning" increase in mpox cases in the past two weeks.

Ten new cases have been reported in the past two weeks, a notable rise from the prior average of fewer than two cases per week. In response to this surge, officials recommend enhancing testing and vaccination efforts to reduce the risk of severe illness and transmission.

Mpox is a viral infection caused by the Monkeypox virus. It can spread in several ways: through direct contact with infected wild animals, close contact with an infected person (including intimate or sexual contact), and exposure to body fluids, sores, or respiratory droplets from kissing, coughing, or sneezing.

"We had four cases about two weeks ago, and then six cases last week. And so to us, that's a sign that we are entering the summer season where people are more social and sexually active," Dr. Sonali Kulkarni, director of the HIV and STD programs at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, told ABC 7.

Individuals who develop symptoms should seek medical attention and get tested, the officials caution.

Symptoms of mpox typically manifest three to 17 days after exposure. The hallmark sign is a rash that can develop on the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or around the genitals. Other common symptoms include fever and chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, and respiratory issues.

A person with mpox is infectious from the time symptoms appear until the rash has completely healed. To minimize the risk of infection, officials advise avoiding sex or intimate contact with anyone who has a new or unexplained rash or any related symptoms. They also recommend against sharing towels, clothing, bedding, fetish gear, sex toys, or toothbrushes. Additionally, using protective measures like gloves and condoms is strongly advised.

Another key tool for preventing mpox is the Jynneos vaccine, a two-dose series recommended for:

  • Men or transgender people who have sex with men or transgender people
  • Anyone having sex or intimate contact at large public events or involved in commercial sex
  • People living with HIV, especially those with advanced or uncontrolled HIV
  • Sexual partners of individuals in these groups

"People in high-risk groups are urged to get fully vaccinated with two doses for the best protection. Second doses can be given no matter how long it's been since the first dose. Residents can choose to receive the mpox vaccine subcutaneously (in the upper arm) or intradermally (under the skin on their arm or back). Vaccine boosters are not recommended at this time," the LA county officials said in the news release.