Midpeninsula Post

Stanford monkeypox testing available to Bay Area patients

A microscopic image of monkeypox from 2003 via the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Stanford Medicine’s Clinical Virology Lab launched a monkeypox virus diagnostic test late last month in response to the global monkeypox outbreak. Testing is available through the Stanford and Packard healthcare systems and select other nearby hospital facilities. 

Santa Clara County saw its first case of monkeypox around two weeks ago, and now sits at two confirmed cases. The California Department of Public Health reported 141 probable and confirmed cases in California as of July 7.

“We just started offering testing over the last two weeks, the number of cases that have come in, the number of specimens for testing has been relatively low,” said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology and infectious diseases at Stanford School of Medicine. “Though we have diagnosed two cases already, and we’re anticipating an increase in volume.”

Patients who suspect they may have monkeypox can visit their family physician or local urgent care unit, where their lesion will be swabbed. Once a sample is sent to Stanford, a diagnosis is typically returned within a 24 to 48-hour time frame, Dr. Pinsky said.

Generally, monkeypox is self-limited and resolves with limited intervention, Dr. Pinsky said. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash resembling pimples or blisters, according to the CDC. Unlike the virus that causes COVID-19, monkeypox transmission usually requires direct contact through infectious rashes or body fluids. 

While the current risk to the general population is low, laboratories at academic institutions across the nation, including Stanford, are still actively working to provide and improve testing capacity. 

“I think that we’re improving test capacity,” Dr. Pinsky said. “The first step is to identify individuals that are infected and then that way we can prevent or limit the spread … we’re more prepared than we were a month ago.” 

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