OLYMPIA, WA — Washington health officials reported the state’s first monkeypox cases affecting children and women this week as the state’s case count linked to the international outbreak nears 400.
The monkeypox virus can produce flu-like symptoms, often followed by a rash with bumps. According to public health officials, the disease is rarely deadly, and most people recover in two to four weeks. Vaccines, while currently limited in supply, can help prevent initial infection and make symptoms less severe.
On Thursday, the state Department of Health asked residents to keep an eye on any new rashes they develop and get them checked out.
“We are continuing to see a rise in MPV cases,” said Dr. Umair Shah, the state Secretary of Health. “Remember – anyone can get this contact-based virus. If you have a rash, contact a health care provider and cover it up. Avoid direct skin contact and sharing items with anyone in your household until you get it checked.”
Related: WA Launches New Monkeypox Hotline
The DOH hosted a news briefing outlining the latest case trends Thursday, one day after King County health officials announced their first known monkeypox case in an infant, who required hospitalization, along with three diagnoses in patients who identify as cisgender women.
“The infant is currently hospitalized, stable, and receiving treatment,” Public Health – Seattle & King County wrote Wednesday. “The infant was likely exposed to monkeypox through an infected family member. This child did not get the infection from school, childcare or other public setting.”
King County public health officials said monkeypox cases in children are rare and the risk of infection is considered low for the general public. However, children and others living in households where a person already has monkeypox can be at a higher risk, if there is close or extended contact, including through caregiving.
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.
As The Seattle Times reports, a 17-year-old also tested positive for monkeypox earlier in the month. The state estimates that up to 77,000 residents are at a higher risk of contracting the illness.
According to DOH data, 318 of Washington’s 392 monkeypox cases were identified in King County, followed by 28 in Pierce County and 11 in Snohomish County. One dozen other Washington counties have case counts in the single digits. Last week, King County Executive Dow Constantine declared monkeypox a public health emergency, aiming to grant public health staff more flexibility in managing the outbreak.
Learn more about monkeypox in Washington on the Public Health Insider blog and the DOH’s information page.
Source: Bellevue Patch