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First case of monkeypox reported in Spokane County

July 29, 2022 Updated Fri., July 29, 2022 at 7:24 p.m.

A health care worker prepares to administer a monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center on July 12 in Wilton Manors, Fla. The first case in Spokane County was reported on Friday, July 29.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
A health care worker prepares to administer a monkeypox vaccine at the Pride Center on July 12 in Wilton Manors, Fla. The first case in Spokane County was reported on Friday, July 29. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)

An adult in Spokane County has tested positive for monkeypox, Spokane Regional Health District officials said Friday.

The patient is receiving outpatient care, the health district said in a statement. The patient likely was exposed outside of Washington.

Initial testing was completed on Friday at a commercial laboratory in Spokane County. The specimen was collected July 23, health district spokesperson Deanna Stark said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will perform confirmatory testing at headquarters in Atlanta.

The health district is working to identify anyone who may be at risk of exposure due to direct close contact with the patient. People with close contact are asked to watch for symptoms.

The Washington State Department of Health has counted 118 people to have tested positive for the virus. The majority of cases are in King County, which is seeing cases double every week. As of Thursday, the CDC reports 5,189 cases in 47 U.S. states since the international outbreak began in May.

“While the threat of monkeypox generally remains low, it’s important that everyone be aware of this disease, so that those at risk can seek medical care and get tested promptly if they believe they have symptoms,” Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said in a statement.

The virus does not easily spread between people with casual contact, but transmission can occur through contact with infectious sores and body fluids, contaminated items such as clothing or bedding, sexual contact, or through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face interactions.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters. In this outbreak, some individuals have had a rash only and no other symptoms, and sometimes the rash consists of only a few sores. The rash can occur in the mouth, and there may be sores in the genital and anal areas. In other cases, a rash may be on the face and on other parts of the body.

The illness typically lasts two to four weeks and most people get better without treatment, the health district said. However, sometimes monkeypox can cause scarring from the sores, lead to pneumonia, and in rare cases be fatal. People who have monkeypox can spread the virus from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the health district recommends good hand hygiene and to minimize skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have been exposed to the virus or to those showing a rash or skin sores.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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