‘RISK NOT LIMITED TO MEN HAVING SEX WITH MEN’
King County Public Health says its seen the first presumptive case of monkeypox in Washington state, officials said Monday.
The case is in an adult male with international travel in the past month to a country that has reported monkeypox cases recently. Initial testing confirming an orthopoxviral infection was completed on Monday, May 23 at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. Confirmatory testing will be done at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health department said.
Public Health is working with the patient and the patient’s medical providers to identify those who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious. The man is isolating and does not pose a risk to others at this time. The department said it has not identified any high-risk exposures in King County, and is are following up with people who had potential low risk exposures. The man was not hospitalized and is recovering at home.
“The public and healthcare providers should be aware of the growing international monkeypox outbreak,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle and King County. “At this time, we have no evidence that monkeypox is spreading locally, but if there are unrecognized cases, that is a possibility.”
“People should understand that the disease can affect anyone and those who are most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with monkeypox. The risk is not limited to men who have sex with men,” he said, referring to reports that outbreaks in Belgium and Spain are related to sexual escapades of men during rave parties in those countries.
“Anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox, or has been in contact with someone with monkeypox, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. This is especially important for those who have also traveled in the last 30 days to a region reporting monkeypox cases, or who is a man who has sex with other men,” he said.
“We at DOH continue to work with Public Health – Seattle & King County and CDC to support the investigation of this case. The risk to the public is low, but it’s important for clinicians and the public to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors for monkeypox,” said Dr. Tao Kwan-Gett, Washington State Chief Science Officer.
Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that is uncommon in the U.S. The illness can begin with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes followed by a rash on the face and body or with an isolated rash in the genital or groin area, sometimes without other symptoms. When the rash involves the groin, it can be mistaken for other more common causes of sexually transmitted infections.
People should be alert for the appearance of new rashes characterized by sores, bumps or fluid filled bumps and seek medical evaluation if they develop such a rash.
Most people recover in 2-4 weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children, and pregnant women.
The virus does not spread easily between people; transmission can occur through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets (saliva) from a case entering the eyes or mouth following prolonged face-to-face contact.
In parts of central and west Africa where monkeypox occurs, people can be exposed through bites or scratches from rodents and small mammals, preparing wild game, or having contact with an infected animal or possibly animal products.
As of Monday morning, the CDC is aware of one confirmed and four other presumptive monkeypox cases in the U.S. Over 100 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported from the UK and Europe where health officials report many cases among men who have sex with men and likely sexual transmission.
People who may have symptoms of monkeypox should contact their healthcare provider. This includes anyone who:
- traveled to central or west African countries, parts of Europe where monkeypox cases have been reported, or other areas with confirmed cases of monkeypox during the month before their symptoms began,
- had contact with a person with confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or,
- is a man who regularly has close or intimate contact with other men, including random sex using hookup digital apps, or at a bar or party.