Nearly 75 monkeypox cases in Oregon; how to stay informed, get tested

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Adriana Gutierrez, News Contributor

The World Health Association has declared Monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, as the virus continues to spread across the United States and in five counties in Oregon. 

As of August 2, there are 72 reported cases in Oregon, in counties Clackamas, Columbia, Lane, Multnomah and Washington. All positive cases are in men. 

Infection with the virus — which can turn into the rare Monkeypox disease — enters the body through close prolonged physical contact or intimate contact, direct contact with Monkeypox sores or rashes and through touching items like clothes or linen that have had contact with the rashes.

The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks and can’t be spread between people who don’t have symptoms. Symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and/or a rash, which presents with pimples or blisters. They typically appear on the face, inside the mouth, hands, feet, genitals or anus. 

“If (someone) tests positive for (human monkeypox virus), public health will contact them to review how to avoid infecting others and to identify any close contacts. Public health staff will then get in touch with those close contacts to assess their risk of exposure based on the nature of the contact, and advise them on symptoms to watch for and vaccination, if needed,” said Jonathan Modie, lead communications officer for the Oregon Health Authority. 

While anyone can test positive for the virus, most cases in the current outbreak have been among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, Modie said. 

“OHA is prioritizing the empowerment of men who have sex with men and the larger LGBTQIA+ and queer community with information, testing, prevention and treatment strategies so they can take steps to protect themselves from the virus,” Modie said. “At the same time, we anticipate cases in other groups of people, as small numbers of women and children in other states have also been affected by (human monkeypox virus) in the current outbreak.”

If the virus is contracted, the CDC recommends those positive to limit skin-to-skin contact with other people until the rashes have cleared up. 

Modie also recommended bandaging the sores and rashes, washing hands frequently and doing laundry often. Eye infections are common for those who conduct the virus, so those who wear contacts should switch to wearing glasses, Modie said.

Due to the virus’ similarity to smallpox, antivirals used to treat the latter can also be used for the former, though there is no particular Monkeypox treatment. There is a vaccine available for monkeypox, called Jynneos, which Modie recommends an infected individual get as soon as symptoms appear. 

As of August, there are no deaths in the U.S. from the virus infection. People with weakened immune systems should be particularly careful as the virus continues to spread, the CDC recommends.