King County Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

SEATTLE — King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a proclamation Friday declaring the monkeypox outbreak a local public health emergency, nearly three months after confirming the region’s first case. According to the latest available data, testing has confirmed 275 monkeypox cases in King County since May, among more than 14,000 confirmed across the United States.

The monkeypox virus often causes a rash with bumps, which can be preceded by flu-like symptoms. According to public health officials, the disease is rarely deadly, and most people recover in two to four weeks. Vaccines, though limited in supply, can help prevent initial infection and make symptoms less severe.

In a news release Friday, Constantine’s office said the proclamation will grant Public Health – Seattle & King County more flexibility in their efforts, including more hiring and contracting as needed.

“We are fortunate to have one of the best public health organizations in the nation right here in King County, and today’s action ensures they will have all the tools needed to take on the challenge of monkeypox,” Constantine said. “The health of our community is paramount, and responding quickly and nimbly to monkeypox will help keep more of us safe.”

Related: WA Launches New Monkeypox Hotline

Public health teams have been tracking monkeypox cases since the first case May 23, leading case investigations, helping screen suspected cases and distributing antiviral medications and vaccines. While Friday’s declaration will not increase the number of vaccines allotted by the federal government, officials said it will make it easier to coordinate deliveries when more become available.

“It’s an important time for public health to have the flexibility it needs to be able to respond and reach the communities most impacted, including ensuring equitable access to vaccine,” said Dennis Worsham, King County’s interim public health director. “Removing any procedural barriers will help us be as effective as possible as we expect a continued busy fall for Public Health, healthcare providers and community partners, including the possible role-out of new COVID-19 boosters, flu shots, and preventing more cases of MPV in our community.”

How monkeypox can spread:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, sores, scabs from a person with monkeypox.
  • Through skin-to-skin contact during intimate contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Through respiratory droplets or oral fluids (saliva) during prolonged face-to-face contact such as kissing and other face-to-face contact.

Readers can learn more about monkeypox on King County’s official website.

Source: Bellevue Patch