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Clark County confirms 1st case of monkeypox

Clark County's top health official said the risk to the public remains "very low." Unlike COVID-19, monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people.

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — Health officials announced the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Clark County, Wash. on Monday but stressed that the risk to public health remains low.

The person who tested positive is a man who lives in Clark County and has no recent travel history. He is isolating at home, Clark County Public Health (CCPH) said in a news release. 

CCPH is working to identify people who were in close contact with this individual while he was contagious. Close contacts will be notified of their possible exposure and health officials will facilitate vaccinations for those who are eligible. 

Health officials said the vaccine may prevent infection or reduce symptoms of monkeypox, but it's only recommended for close contacts who have not been infected. 

“While we have identified the first case of monkeypox in Clark County, the risk to the public remains very low,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, health officer and director of CCPH. “Anyone can get monkeypox. But unlike COVID-19, monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people.”

RELATED: No, the monkeypox outbreak has not been declared a pandemic

Monkeypox is spread through close contact with an infected person who has symptoms. Brief interactions that do not involve physical contact are not high risk, health officials said. 

The virus can spread through: 

  • Direct contact with rash, scabs or body fluids of an infected person 
  • Respiratory droplets (saliva) during direct and prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person
  • Contact with bedding, clothing or other objects that have been contaminated by body fluids or sores of an infected person

Monkeypox illness often begins with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion. A few days later, a person develops a rash, which then turns into raised bumps that fill with fluid, health officials said. Typically, the rash is mostly on the face, arms, legs and hands. However, if a person was infected during sexual contact, the rash might only be on the genitals or anus. 

RELATED: WHO declares monkeypox outbreak a global emergency; here's what that means

Symptoms usually begin seven to 14 days after exposure to an infected person but can appear as early as five days and up to 21 days after exposure. People with monkeypox are contagious as soon as they develop symptoms and continue to be contagious until the rash has fully healed. 

Most people recover within two to four weeks, but the disease can be serious, especially for children and people who are immunocompromised or pregnant.

People who feel sick or have any rashes or sores should avoid sex and gatherings. Before visiting a hospital or clinic, people should notify their medical provider that they are concerned about having monkeypox due to close contact with an infected person or a person with a similar rash. 

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