SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities say a “presumptive” case of monkeypox is being investigated in the Seattle area. Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for King County, said Monday at a news conference.
The case was in an adult male who had travelled internationally in the last month to a country that had reported monkeypox cases.
Duchin said initial testing was completed Monday at a state laboratory. A test to confirm the case will be done by federal officials.
The person was isolating at home and was not considered a risk to others.
Monkeypox is rarely identified outside of Africa. Although the disease belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, its symptoms are milder.
The following is a statement from Duchin.
“So with respect to the investigation, how many people we are still working this up? You know, it just was reported yesterday, so I don’t think I can give you a definitive number, but the case did travel. And so we’ve alerted the CDC and the Division of Quarantine and Global Migration. And as I said, the case is very cooperative about providing travel details.
So the CDC will follow up on travelers, international travelers. We will be following up on people who are here in Seattle and King County, and those include some of the close contacts of the case.
I don’t really want to get into too many details that might lead to identification of this person. But I can just tell you, a relatively small number, less than a dozen close contacts have been identified at the moment, but we’re still working to make sure we have identified everyone where this person may have been during their exposure period.
But based on the activities that this person was doing, we don’t suspect that there are high risk exposures that we’re missing at this point. And with respect to smallpox vaccination, smallpox vaccination does provide some protection against monkeypox, although most people, you know, younger than 60 or 50 for sure, you know, have not been vaccinated against smallpox.
But the older, older adults would have some type of protection, most likely if they were exposed to smallpox or monkeypox, even 20 plus years later. But that is not something that is routinely administered anymore, because smallpox, which is a horrible disease that killed up to 30% of those who are infected, has been eradicated through the use of smallpox vaccine. So that’s a great public health victory in this case. Smallpox vaccine. \
In this case, smallpox vaccine could be used for high risk exposures, particularly in people who are susceptible to severe illness, such as immunocompromised persons or health care workers who didn’t take the appropriate precautions and so on. But we have not identified any such exposures that would require a post-exposure vaccination at this point.”