SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Health and Human Services on Wednesday confirmed two “probable” cases of monkeypox in the region, but local health officials say the good news is that the disease is less transmissible than COVID-19.

The cases would mark the first known appearance of the virus in the county. Medical professionals advise the best way to protect against monkeypox is to avoid coming in contact with anyone suspected of having it.

“What we know is these two cases were associated with international travel,” said Dr. Seema Sha with County Health and Human Services Agency. “We have sent them for confirmatory testing to the CDC and we should be hopefully hearing back pretty quickly.”

The two cases are unrelated to each other, but both individuals recently traveled abroad, county doctors say. They are asymptomatic, doing well, not hospitalized and are now isolating from others.

“The biggest prevention is not coming into contact with someone who has active lesions that have been identified as monkeypox, and obviously if you’ve been exposed, immediately seeking care,” Dr. Shah said.

Monkeypox is a viral infection that spreads through contact with body fluids or sores. It can also be spread through sex by skin-to-skin contact.

Doctors say the sores can look similar to chicken pox.

“A lot of the lesions do look similar,” Dr. Shah said. “We take it in context with you know, ‘Has this person traveled abroad into areas that have confirmed monkey pox cases?’ ‘Have they had contact with individuals that have been confirmed?’ So a lot of those factors do play in. The lesions can look similar but they do look a little different overall. They have a slightly different appearance and there’s some great pictures on CDC’s website.”

County doctors say infected people usually develop a rash within one to three days that spreads from the face to other parts of the body. The initial symptoms of the illness include fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint aches and fatigue.