You’ve probably heard about the monkeypox in the news and might be wondering about it, worried, or want more information.
Currently, there are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Skagit County. However, as of July 26, 2022, 101 people in Washington State have tested positive for orthopoxvirus, likely to be monkeypox.
While new information continues to come in, here are answers to several common questions including information about how it is spread, who is at risk, signs and symptoms, and what to do if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral disease that can cause rashes and other symptoms. It does not commonly occur in the U.S., but there is currently an outbreak of monkeypox with cases spreading in Washington state and across the country, as well as in many other countries. Many of the current cases are occurring in men who have sex with men, although monkeypox can spread person-to-person with any kind of close, skin-to-skin contact.
How is it spread?
Monkeypox spreads in different ways but requires close interaction with a symptomatic individual. The virus can be transmitted from person-to-person through:
- Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids
- Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
- Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
- Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.
Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.
Who is at risk?
At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the United States is fairly low, however, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of monkey pox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash. The rash can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
What should you do if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed?
CDC recommends that anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox isolate themselves from others and immediately contact their healthcare provider, even if they have not had contact with someone who has monkeypox. Additional recommendations to prevent the spread of infection include:
- Isolate yourself from other people and from animals
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, sleep, or have sex with others
- Wear a well-fitting medical mask around others
- Do not share bedding, towels, dishes, or utensils
- Wash your own laundry and dishes
- Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items
- Do not use commercial travel (airplane, bus, taxi, shared car)
For more information about monkeypox, please visit Monkeypox | Washington State Department of Health. If you have symptoms of monkeypox or think you may have been exposed, contact your health care provider or Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.