Blood sample tube with positive result of Monkeypox virus. [stock photo]
Jackson County Public Health is investigating the first presumptive case of hMPXV, better known as monkeypox.
The case reported Wednesday involves an adult Jackson County resident, according to a news advisory issued by Jackson County Health and Human Services.
“The case is still being investigated, but the risk to the community appears to be extremely low,” the advisory from health officials states.
As of Nov. 2, some 238 monkeypox cases have been reported in Oregon. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control had tallied 27,881 cases across the United States as of Oct. 21.
Health officials say that since the first monkeypox case was reported in the United States May 17, the growth rate of infections involving the hMPXV virus is slowing.
“The decrease in cases is likely due to a combination of many factors, including vaccination, behavior change and possibly increases in infection immunity among a segment of affected populations,” the advisory states.
Monkeypox is a rare illness with symptoms similar to smallpox, but milder, and health officials say the strain involved in the 2022 monkeypox outbreak is rarely fatal. The virus is not related to chickenpox.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that may resemble pimples or blisters.
The rash may appear on the face, in the mouth and on other parts of the body such as hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
The virus typically spreads through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact, as well as skin contact with saliva, mucus and snot or other secretions.
Health officials recommend anyone with symptoms or an unexplained rash contact their health care provider, call ahead to alert the office about a potential monkeypox infection and wear a mask before the visit.
An individual with monkeypox symptoms should avoid sex, physical or intimate contact with anyone until a health care provider clears them, and avoid close contact with pets and animals until they discuss it with a health care provider.
Health officials say the risk is low for getting monkeypox from touching fabrics and non-disinfected objects that were used during sex by a person infected with the virus.
A person infected with the monkeypox virus is able to spread it to others from the time symptoms start “until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed,” according to the news advisory.
Those diagnosed with monkeypox should isolate at home, avoid physical contact with others and follow the directions of medical professionals.
To mitigate the spread of monkeypox, health officials recommend individuals avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have rashes resembling monkeypox. Avoid kissing, hugging or sexual contact with a person who has monkeypox, don’t share eating utensils with a monkeypox patient and avoid handling the bedding, towels or clothing of a person infected with the virus.
Further, health officials recommend washing hands often with soap and water, and avoiding contact with animals live or dead known to spread the monkeypox virus such as rodents and primates.
Although there’s no designated treatments for monkeypox, vaccines and antiviral drugs originally developed to protect against smallpox have been shown to be effective in treating and preventing monkeypox.
Oregon Health Authority and Jackson County are working to identify close contacts of confirmed or presumptive cases to prioritize administering vaccines to people with recent close contact exposure to the virus.
Vaccinations even after close contact exposure to the hMPXV virus can prevent illness, according to health officials.
Anyone who anticipates having or has had recent skin-to-skin contact with at least one person and who knows others in their social circles who’ve had monkeypox are advised to check with their primary care provider to check if the monkeypox vaccine is available, or call Jackson County Public Health at 541-774-8209.