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Monkeypox cases are rare, but health officials are working to update our vaccine strategy.

If you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve likely heard about monkeypox. We’ve heard from some of you with concerns. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 6 cases in Washington, all in King County. While Pierce County currently has no monkeypox cases, we want to bring you the most reliable and accurate information about public health. That’s why we added a webpage to help you track the spread of monkeypox with the latest up-to-date info.

You may have heard this week the White House and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new vaccine strategy to help slow the spread of monkeypox among at-risk communities. Phase one of the plan is to quickly get vaccine to people at high-risk for the disease.

We are working with Washington State Department of Health to coordinate that effort in Pierce County. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more info. 

In the meantime, here’s what you should know about the disease.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is not new. Scientists first identified the virus in 1958 in monkeys and for the first time in a human in 1970. Before the current outbreak, nearly all monkeypox cases outside Africa were linked to travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or imported animals.

Monkeypox is rare and not often seen in the United States. It can cause a rash that looks like bumps, blisters or ulcers. Before the rash, some people have flu-like symptoms, like: 

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches and backache.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Chills.
  • Exhaustion.

If you have a new rash or sores or other symptoms:

  • Avoid sex or intimate contact.
  • See your healthcare provider. Remind them monkeypox may be circulating in the community.

How does it spread?

Monkeypox spreads through contact with:

  • Monkeypox rash, sores or scabs.
  • Objects, fabrics or surfaces a person with monkeypox used.
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with monkeypox.

Monkeypox can spread as soon as symptoms start until all sores heal and a fresh layer of skin forms. This can be several weeks.

Learn more in CDC’s monkeypox fact sheet.

Treatment and vaccination.

No specific treatment for monkeypox exists. Healthcare providers may prescribe antiviral medicine for people who are at high risk of severe disease.

The monkeypox and smallpox viruses are similar. Antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to treat and prevent monkeypox.

People exposed to monkeypox virus who have not had smallpox vaccine in the last 3 years should consider getting vaccine.

Keep an eye on our new monkeypox page for updates and sign up for notifications from our Your Reliable Source blog.