Monkeypox reported in Clark County

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Clark County Public Health reported its first confirmed case of monkeypox last week.

On July 25, the health department announced a county resident, an adult male with no recent travel history, tested positive for the disease and was isolating at home.

Clark County Public Health was working with the patient to identify close contacts while he was contagious, a news release stated. The department will notify those individuals and facilitate vaccination for eligible close contacts.

The vaccine can prevent infection or reduce symptoms, the release stated. Currently, it is only recommended for close contacts who haven’t developed infection.

Clark County Public Health Director Alan Melnick said the risk of monkeypox to the public remains “very low.”

“Anyone can get monkeypox. But unlike COVID-19, monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people,” Melnick said.

The disease spreads through close contact with an infected person who has symptoms, the health department stated. Brief interactions that don’t involve physical contact are not high risk.

The monkeypox virus can spread through a number of ways:

  • Direct contact with rash, scabs or body fluids of an infected person
  • Respiratory droplets during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person
  • Contact with bedding, clothing or other objects that have been contaminated by body fluids or sores of an infected person

The illness often begins with flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion, the release stated. The patient then develops a rash a few days later, which turns into raised bumps that fill with fluid.

The rash is usually mostly on the face, arms, legs and hands, the release stated. If a person was infected during sexual contact, the rash may only be on the genitals or anus.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start between seven to 14 days after exposure to an infected person, but can occur as early as five days and up to 21 days after exposure. People are contagious as soon as they develop symptoms and continue to be contagious until the rash has fully healed.

Most people who get infected recover in a timeframe of two and four weeks, but the disease can be serious for children, pregnant people and those who are immunocompromised, the release stated.

“People who feel sick or have any rashes or sores — or whose partners are sick or have rashes or sores — should avoid sex and gatherings, especially if they involve close skin-to-skin contact or prolonged face-to-face contact, and see a health care provider,” the release stated.

Before going into a medical office, people should notify their provider they are concerned about monkeypox and should note whether they had close contact with someone who was diagnosed or experiencing similar symptoms.

As of press deadline, the Washington State Department of Health reported two confirmed cases of monkeypox in Clark County. The state as a whole had 118 total confirmed cases, mostly in King County.

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