1st case of monkeypox in Kitsap

Health officials are responding to the probable first case of monkeypox in Kitsap County.

The adult man tested positive this week for Orthopoxvirus — the group of viruses that causes monkeypox. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct follow-up testing to confirm the case. Health officials are working to notify anyone who might have been in close contact with the infected person.

More than 100 cases of monkeypox have been identified in Washington since May, with the majority in King County.

Monkeypox most often spreads through close, physical contact with an infected person. Symptoms include a rash with fluid-filled bumps or sores, which can appear anywhere on the body. Most people recover in two to four weeks. Monkeypox can cause severe illness, especially in people who are immunocompromised.

“The first case of monkeypox in Kitsap is cause for awareness but not alarm,” Kitsap Public Health District health officer Dr. Gib Morrow said. “We are asking residents to be aware of how monkeypox spreads and contact a healthcare provider if they experience symptoms.”

The district has asked local healthcare providers to seek testing for people who have symptoms of monkeypox and report possible cases to public health. Updates on monkeypox in Kitsap County will be posted to the district website.

Vaccination for monkeypox is not available to the general public as supplies are limited. Vaccination is prioritized for people who have had close contact with monkeypox cases and are at high risk.

The state Department of Health expects to receive additional vaccine supplies in late August.

Common questions and answers

What is monkeypox and why is it a public health concern?

Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox, but milder. Monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is being reported this year in countries that do not normally report monkeypox cases, including the United States.

How does monkeypox spread?

The virus is spread through close, skin-to-skin contact with someone who has monkeypox (usually contact with a rash, sores or scabs. Monkeypox can also spread through respiratory droplets or saliva during face-to-face contact, such as kissing, or contact with items such as clothing or bedding used by someone with monkeypox. While many of those affected in current outbreaks are gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox can get the illness.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include a rash or sores that look like pimples or blisters. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headaches or muscle aches, swollen glands and exhaustion can occur before a rash or sores appear.