First case of monkeypox confirmed in Whatcom County

The Whatcom County Health Department is investigating a confirmed case of monkeypox in the area, the department announced Wednesday.

According to the health department, a local person in their 50s tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. The person was not hospitalized and is isolating at home.

The health department said that while the first cases in Washington were linked to international travel, the Whatcom County case appears to be linked to exposure in King County. The health department is working to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with the person who tested positive.

“It is important for people to know that risk to the general public remains low,” said Amy Harley, co-health officer for the Whatcom County Health Department. “We have been preparing for the possibility of MPV in Whatcom County for the last few months. The U.S. has successfully controlled outbreaks of MPV in the past. This virus is not spread as easily as COVID-19, and we already have vaccines and treatments available.”

The monkeypox virus causes a rash that can look like bumps, sores, blisters or ulcers, the health department said. Some people also develop flu-like symptoms.

According to the health department, anyone can get MPV. The virus spreads during close, physical contact with the following:

  • An MPV rash, sores or scabs.
  • Objects or surfaces used by a person with MPV.
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from someone with MPV.

The health department said the virus can spread as soon as symptoms start and until all sores heal and a fresh layer of skin forms, which can take several weeks.

Click here for more information on monkeypox from the Washington State Department of Health.