SAN DIEGO — San Diego County health officials announced two more “probable” cases of monkeypox in the region Friday.

To date, authorities have recorded six local cases of the virus — three confirmed and three deemed “probable” until confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency wrote on Twitter.

Monkeypox is a viral infection that spreads through contact with body fluids, sores on the body of someone who already has the virus, and shared items like clothing and bedding. While it is not generally considered a sexually transmitted disease, it can be spread through sex by skin-to-skin contact, and that is believed to be a factor in some current European cases.

The virus, and images of the unsightly sores it can cause, has captured widespread attention as an outbreak spreads globally and the first cases in the U.S. have been announced.

It is not a new virus, and many recent cases have been reported in western and central African countries where monkeypox is considered common. But the monkeypox has also spread to countries where it is not endemic, including Britain, Canada, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.S.

Though the public is weary from several years of the coronavirus pandemic, experts generally caution against deeming monkeypox “the next COVID-19.”

“The risk of monkeypox to the public is currently very low based on the information available,” officials state on the county’s designated page for the virus.

Early evidence indicates that outbreaks are not developing as rapidly as those of the coronavirus. Monkeypox is not known to linger in the air over time and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace, according to the Health and Human Services Agency.

According to county health officials, symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion

A rash usually develops within one to three days after the appearance of a fever, spreading from the face to other parts of the body, the Health and Human Services Agency explained. Typically, people develop symptoms within a week or two of exposure.

Most people who become infected with monkeypox “have a mild illness that improves without treatment over 2 to 4 weeks,” the county said.

Anyone who thinks they have the virus should contact a health care provider right away. You can learn more here.

The CDC has started releasing doses of a smallpox vaccine, which can be effective against monkeypox, but they are initially limited in availability and designated only for people who may have had close contact with the virus, health care workers and other people in high-risk settings.