Outbreaks of monkeypox virus (MPV) are increasing nationally and in King County. This blog post provides updated information about local cases.
Public health continues to conduct case investigations, which are critical to helping prevent the spread. When we come in contact with people with MPV, we can offer vaccination to people who have been in contact, including household and family members, which can help prevent more widespread spread. If you have symptoms of monkeypox or suspect you have been exposed, contact your healthcare provider immediately for evaluation. People with symptoms can also be seen at Public Health’s sexual health clinic.
MPV cases in the United States and locally here in King County have increased over the past few weeks. As of August 24, 2022, 310 King County residents have been diagnosed with MPV, up from 48 cases in mid-July.
Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has MPV and has direct contact with the rash or sores of someone who has MPV is at risk of becoming infected. Locally, most cases have been reported in adult men* who have reported close intimate contact, including sexual contact, with other men.
*This includes people who may identify as non-binary, gender queer, or transgender.
A new case in a child
Recently, a case of MPV was identified in an infant in King County. The infant is currently hospitalized, stable, and receiving treatment. The child was exposed to monkey pox through an infected family member. This child did not get the infection from school, child care, or other public places.
To protect privacy, we are not providing any additional information about this case.
Additionally, three individuals identified as having MPV are cis-gender women, including one individual who may have been at risk of transmission through sexual activity. Investigations into these incidents are ongoing.
What does this latest information tell us about transmission?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that MPV is an emerging infection and that much remains to be learned about the virus in the context of this international outbreak. We know that MPV is spread through close, prolonged and/or direct contact with someone who has symptoms of the virus. These may include skin-to-skin contact with lesions, contact with respiratory secretions, and shared objects (eg clothing, bedding, beverages). Examples of close, long and/or direct contact may vary depending on the interaction between individuals. For example, close, direct contact between a caregiver and a young child may include hugging, kissing, holding, and feeding.
Individuals with MPV who are isolated at home should take extra care to avoid contact with other household members and follow CDC guidance to limit transmission at home. When a child is infected with MPV, families are advised to reduce the number of caregivers and limit the child’s interactions between siblings, including sharing toys, clothes, linens, and bedding. It is also important for an infected person to limit interactions with pets in the home as MPV has been reported to be transmitted to animals.
Are children at high risk of MPV infection?
No, the risk of MPV infection in the general public in King County, including children, is low. Nationally, children’s cases are rare. However, as we reported above, children in households with a person with confirmed MPV may become infected if there is close, prolonged and/or direct contact, such as what may occur during caregiving.
While the risk is currently low, the CDC advises that child care centers and schools should continue to follow standard hygiene practices, including washing and sanitizing bedding and towels after each use (if used by more than one child), and ensuring access to handwashing supplies at all times. . soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol).
If your child is sick and develops symptoms such as a rash, they should stay at home and away from public settings, including childcare or school, and be checked by a health care provider before returning to daycare or school. Parents and caregivers should immediately notify the school or child care if a child receives a positive lab result for MPV.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance for schools and child care.
What can school or child care administrators and parents do to reduce risk?
If MPV is detected in you or your school, child care, or household, it is important to respond to public health calls to help identify potential contacts. A vaccine is available for newly identified high-risk individuals, and it can prevent an at-risk person from getting sick and preventing further spread in the community.
Family members with MPV should follow these recommendations until MPV symptoms resolve:
- Stay home if MPV symptoms occur until evaluated by a health care provider (isolation); For those diagnosed with MPV, stay home until the rash heals and a new layer of skin forms.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after direct contact with stains.
- Engage with members of the public health team to better understand the source of infection; Discuss questions and concerns with the public health team to receive guidance on how to protect other family members and close contacts from infection.
- Avoid close contact with others, especially family members who are immunocompromised; Avoid contact with pets and other animals at home; Use gauze or bandages to cover spots to limit spread to others and the environment; Use a separate bathroom if possible.
- Postpone visits from friends, family or others without an urgent need at home.
- Avoid sharing potentially contaminated items (eg drinking glasses or eating utensils) or clothing (eg bedding, clothes, towels) and regularly clean and disinfect shared surfaces.
More information about MPV is available here: www.kingcounty.gov/monkeypox
Originally published 8.24.22