Monkeypox: What you need to know about the disease and its status in WA

Monkey pox continues to spread in Washington, D.C., with cases doubling every week. By the end of July, 109 cases were identified across the country.

Currently, most of the confirmed cases in Washington are through local transmission, not travel-related, the state health department said. King County, the state’s most populous county, has about 90% of the cases.

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis transmitted from animals to humans, similar to smallpox, but less severe.

Monkeypox, endemic to Central and West Africa, has been spreading rapidly and widely since May in countries where it is rarely transmitted from person to person, particularly through sexual contact. On July 23, more than 3,000 cases were registered in 47 countries, and the World Health Organization declared it a global emergency.

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Community spread of the virus is now a real concern, said Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, an infectious disease expert at UW Medicine. He added that local access to testing may also contribute to the increase in cases.

In early July, UW Medicine’s virology lab, the state’s largest genome sequencing lab, became one of several labs to conduct PCR testing for monkeypox.

How is monkeypox spread? Who is infected?

Monkeypox can affect anyone who comes in close contact with an infected person, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

This can be through direct contact with an infected person’s respiratory tract, skin lesions, or body fluids, or through sexual contact, or contact with objects contaminated with the virus, such as utensils, clothing, bedding, or electronics. it’s possible.

Following current global trends, cases in Washington are concentrated among men who have had sex with men and who have had multiple partners. Previous epidemics have not disproportionately affected men who have sex with men. Health professionals are working to address this new trend without discrimination or stigmatization.

“I had my first case at the end of May and started treatment after that and it seems like we’ve had a significant increase in cases since Pride weekend,” Danireddy said.

It is not known whether monkeypox can be sexually transmitted. The CDC is still investigating whether the virus can be present in semen, vaginal fluids or feces.

Danireddy, regardless of sexual orientation, the risk is more prevalent in places where there is close skin-to-skin contact. Open-mouth kissing also increased the risk of exposure.

“Instead of saying it’s all gay or queer or transgender, it’s really thinking about the epidemiological risk of sexual intercourse and the number of partners,” Danireddy said.

People who have had multiple sexual partners in the past few months are at risk.

“If you’ve had more than 10 partners in the last three months and you’ve had gonorrhea or syphilis, which puts you at risk of contracting the disease, those are also risk factors,” Danireddy said.

Just as infected animals can transmit the monkeypox virus to humans, infected people can transmit the virus through close contact with animals. This includes cuddling, cuddling, or sleeping in the same bed.

symptoms and signs

Symptoms usually begin within three weeks of exposure to the virus. While in previous outbreaks of monkeypox the rash appeared in an infected person with flu-like symptoms, in the current outbreak the rash appears before other symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes are another symptom of monkeypox.

The rash looks like pimples or blisters and can be painful or itchy. It can appear on or near the genitals, as well as other places such as the arms, legs, chest or face.


As a precaution, the CDC recommends avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact, or sharing objects with people who are infected or have a rash similar to monkeypox.

Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and use EPA-approved cleaners to wipe and disinfect surfaces shared with someone who has monkeypox.

to care

For people diagnosed with monkeypox, the CDC recommends isolation and abstinence from intercourse while recovering. Avoid all contact with pets and other animals.

Monkey pox is contagious from the time symptoms start until the rash heals, all scabs fall off, and a new layer of skin forms, which can take several weeks.

“If you can’t completely isolate yourself, try to cover your victims and sleep separately from the rest of the house,” Danireddy said.

Infectious disease experts say the monkeypox virus is unlikely to affect people in airports or on public transport like the coronavirus.

“It’s a really close intimate connection,” Danireddy said. “So if someone is covered and they’re on public transport, they’re not wearing a mask and they’re not practicing hand hygiene, the risk is very high.”

To care for infections, WHO recommends keeping them dry and exposed when alone, washing hands before and after touching the rash, washing skin with antiseptic soap, and rinsing the mouth with salt water. To relieve discomfort, WHO recommends taking warm baths with baking soda or Epsom salts and using over-the-counter paracetamol. Disinfect high-touch surfaces and keep windows open for good air circulation.

Having sex with a condom can help, but condoms aren’t enough to prevent monkeypox, the CDC said.

You may be eligible for the vaccine if you have been in close contact with an infected person, have no symptoms, and see a health care provider within a two-week window.

Here are additional CDC guidelines for sexually active people who may be exposed to the virus.

Guidelines for pet care and monkeypox are here.


After recovery and isolation is complete, CDC recommends thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all indoor spaces in the following manner:

  1. Collect all dirty waste such as bandages, paper towels, food wrappers and other waste in a sealed bag.
  2. Collect soiled clothing and linens before cleaning other items in the room. Do not shake the linens, as this may spread the infectious particles. Wash them with standard detergent.
  3. Clean hard surfaces and household items using EPA-approved disinfectants. Then move on to upholstered furniture and other soft furnishings with cleaners suitable for the surface. steam cleaning may be considered.
  4. Finally, work on the carpet and floor to remove any soiled residue.

If cleaning is performed by someone other than a person with monkeypox, they should wear full skin-covering clothing, disposable medical gloves, and a respirator or appropriate mask.

Do not blow dry or sweep, as this may spread infectious particles, but vacuuming with a high-efficiency air filter can be done. Wet cleaning methods such as disinfectant wipes, sprays and wipes are preferable.

More instructions for cleaning and disinfecting after household recovery can be found here.

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