SEATTLE (AP) — The monkeypox virus continues to circulate in Washington state's most populous county, which includes Seattle, and is now likely spreading between residents, local health officials said Wednesday.
Public health leaders have identified nine King County infections since the first case was found in Washington state and confirmed in a King County man in late May, The Seattle Times reported.
Because recent cases of monkeypox have been identified in King County residents who did not travel during the time they would have been exposed, local transmission is likely, King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a statement.
“In the current outbreak, people have presented with skin lesions that may resemble common sexually transmitted infection such as herpes or syphilis,” Duchin said.
Public Health — Seattle & King County is urging anyone with a new rash to visit a health care provider for an assessment, noting that people should also be aware the rate of syphilis is rising in King County and nationally.
Most monkeypox patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Many develop a painful rash, officials said.
Unlike the coronavirus, monkeypox does not spread through the air over longer distances, among other differences. Monkeypox is primarily spread through large droplets or the exchange of bodily fluids.
Most patients recover in two to four weeks, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County, but the disease can be serious for children or those who are immunocompromised, have a history of eczema or who are pregnant.
Federal officials last week said they are expanding the group of people recommended to get vaccinated, providing more monkeypox vaccine, working to expand testing, and taking other steps to try to get ahead of the outbreak.
In King County, health officials are expecting about 500 vaccine doses from the state Department of Health. To date, most cases in the U.S. and Europe have occurred in men who have sex with men, but anyone can be affected and sex between people of different sexes can also accelerate the spread, officials said.
More information about the virus and its risk factors are available at Public Health — Seattle & King County’s news website.