Health news

Monkeypox Is On the Rise in Oregon

Here’s the latest on what’s happening and what you can do to avoid infection.

By Michelle Harris


Officials in Oregon are keeping a close eye on the spread of monkeypox, with 89 confirmed or presumptive cases in the state, the bulk of them in Multnomah County.  

Gov. Kate Brown is urging the state’s residents to take precautions while attending events like concerts or festivals that involve close contact. The current outbreak has had the greatest impacts on the gay and bisexual communities, but Brown is warning that the virus can affect everyone, regardless of “background, zip code, income level, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” 

A rare disease that historically has not often been reported in the United States, monkeypox is a virus with flu-like symptoms that can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and headache followed by a rash with bumps resembling pimples or blisters.  

Currently, 87 of the 89 identified cases in the state are in men. While the disease in Oregon has to date primarily spread in sexual situations, it can spread through any prolonged skin-to-skin contact. Spread is also possible through contact with mucosal fluids, respiratory droplets, bodily fluids, and contaminated clothing such as bedding, clothing, and towels.

According to Multnomah County health officials, some of the ways to help prevent monkeypox from spreading include avoiding skin-to-skin contact with those exhibiting symptoms, wearing gloves when handling clothing, bedding, or other materials that have been used by someone with the virus, and washing hands after contact with someone with a confirmed case of monkeypox. It’s also important to make an appointment with your provider if you believe you’ve been infected. 

An FDA-approved vaccine for monkeypox is currently available for those 18 and older, but supply is limited. Currently, those eligible to receive the vaccine include people who have been in close contact with those infected with the virus, those who are most likely to be exposed, and those who are immunocompromised. The vaccine is given in two doses, with the second dose at least 28 days after the first shot.  

However, due to the supply shortage, the Oregon Health Authority says it is prioritizing first doses, in order to reach as wide a population as possible, though those who are moderate to severely immunocompromised will be scheduled for a second dose in Multnomah County within a four-week window. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported last week that 1,500 people and counting who are eligible for the vaccine were on a waitlist for their shot. 


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