OLYMPIA – Provincial health officials say it’s too early to tell if monkeypox cases are declining, health ministry officials said Thursday.
The risk to the general public remains low, Health Secretary Dr Umair Shah told reporters.
“A monkeypox outbreak in the midst of COVID is a massive outbreak in itself,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist. “This is a mature outbreak.”
As of Thursday, there were 392 cases of monkeypox statewide. Most of them – 318 – were in King County. He had five cases in Spokane County, according to state databases.
Shah said 12 hospitalizations have been reported in the state.
As of Thursday, there was not enough data to determine whether monkeypox cases were declining, Lindquist said.
The epidemic curve has yet to consistently show a stall in case numbers, Lindquist said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms.
One of the most common and recognizable symptoms is a pimple-like rash that can appear on many parts of the body. According to the CDC, some people have a rash first and then other symptoms, while others experience only the rash.
Anyone with an unexplained rash should check it out and avoid skin-to-skin contact with others during that time.
“If you’re in close proximity to a monkeypox patient, your risk is higher,” Lindquist said.
The state has received 16,210 vials of monkeypox vaccine. All states were assigned by the federal government. Targets for monkeypox vaccine include close contacts of confirmed cases, people who may have been recently exposed to the virus, and laboratory workers who handle virus specimens.
The first wave of monkeypox infections nationwide hit mostly men who have sex with men, but health officials are reminding everyone that anyone can get infected. , reported the first pediatric patient.
“Everyone needs to take precautions. Everyone is at risk,” said Manny Santiago, executive director of the Washington State LGBTQ Commission.
With students on their way back to college, university officials are also considering ways to mitigate the spread of monkeypox on campus.
At Eastern Washington University, the university’s spokesperson, David Meaney, wrote in an email.
“As with Covid, we will work with public health experts to provide guidance,” he wrote.
The university also has an old dormitory that they use as a COVID-19 isolation facility that can be used for monkeypox cases.
Meany also encouraged students to continue good health and safety practices, such as washing their hands and staying home if sick.
The Cougar Health Services website at Washington State University has a page that provides information about monkeypox to students.
Students with new or unexplained rashes are encouraged to seek medical attention and avoid close contact with anyone. Cougar Health Services also tests for monkeypox to help identify appropriate treatments, including working with the Whitman County Public Health Department to advocate for access to a vaccine.
University spokesman David Wasson said WSU Pullman has received about 250 doses of the vaccine from the state and plans to start vaccinated eligible students next week.