Instance of monkeypox investigated in King County amid ‘growing international outbreak’

May 23, 2022, 5:54 PM
Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health for Seattle and King County speaks following the death of a a King County, Washington resident due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during a press conference in Seattle, Washington on February 29, 2020. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A presumptive case of monkeypox is being investigated in King County, according to Public Health, Seattle and King County.

The assumed infection was identified Sunday and is presumed to be linked to the patient’s recent international travel to a country reporting confirmed cases of the virus.

Public Health “has not identified any high-risk exposures in King County, and the “individual was not hospitalized,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer, said in a news conference Monday.

“The CDC is aware of one confirmed and four other presumptive monkeypox cases in the U.S.,” Duchin continued.

“Over 100 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported from the UK and Europe, where health officials report many cases among men who have sex with men and likely sexual transmission. Locally, I want our public and healthcare providers to be aware of the growing international monkeypox outbreak. At this time, we have no evidence that monkeypox is spreading locally.”

EXPLAINER: What is monkeypox and where is it spreading?

The virus, which is within the smallpox family, was first identified in a laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958. The first cases among humans were seen in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“All of a sudden, there’s been breakouts in 12 different countries around the world, sort of out of the blue, and they’re all seemingly unrelated. So that’s where the concern is coming from,” Dr. Gordon Cohen, pediatrician, told KIRO Newsradio.

Monkeypox is spread through contact with lesions from an infected individual, or close contact with an infectious cough.

“Just to compare it to COVID, this is far less transmissible, and hence why there have never been any widespread outbreaks,” Dr. Cohen added.

“Smallpox and monkeypox both fall into a category of viruses that are DNA viruses, and they do not mutate. And hence our current therapies and vaccinations from 50 years ago should still be effective today,” he said, referring to smallpox vaccines.

“Whereas the SARS-CoV-2, which is an RNA virus, can mutate rapidly and is, therefore, able to elude our immunity from vaccinations, previous infections, and even therapies.”

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Instance of monkeypox investigated in King County amid ‘growing international outbreak’