WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) announced today, August 3rd, they are investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox virus (MPV) in a 50-year-old Whatcom County resident. The patient tested positive on August 2nd. This person was not hospitalized and is isolating at home.
The first Washington state cases were tied to patients who recently traveled outside the US. WCHD said the investigation into the Whatcom County case appears to indicate an exposure in King County.
WCHD is working to identify anyone who may be a close contact of our first case. The Health Department has a limited amount of vaccine on hand to administer to any high priority close contacts of the infected person.
“It is important for people to know that risk to the general public remains low,” said Amy Harley, Co-Health Officer for the Whatcom County Health Department. “We have been preparing for the possibility of MPV in Whatcom County for the last few months. The US has successfully controlled outbreaks of MPV in the past. This virus is not spread as easily as COVID-19 and we already have vaccines and treatments available.”
MPV causes a rash that looks like bumps, sores, blisters or ulcers. Some people also have flu-like symptoms.Whatcom County Health Department (August 3, 2022)
Anyone can get MPV. The virus spreads during close, physical contact with:
- MPV rash, sores or scabs.
- Objects, fabrics or surfaces a person with MPV used.
- Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with MPV.
- MPV can spread as soon as symptoms start until all sores heal and a fresh layer of skin forms. This can be several weeks.
It can take up to three weeks from the date of exposure before someone develops symptoms, although in most cases symptoms develop within 7-14 days.
If you have a painful new rash, sores, or other symptoms:
- Avoid sex or intimate contact.
- Work with the WCHD to identify and reach out to contacts who may have been exposed and could be eligible for vaccine to prevent illness.
- See your healthcare provider. Remind them MPV may be circulating in the community.
- There are antiviral treatments available to those who have severe disease
Men who have sex with men may be at higher risk because the virus is spreading in these communities.
For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health MPV website at doh.wa.gov/monkeypox