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Oregon health officials give monkeypox update

State health officials have declared an outbreak locally, and U.S. health officials declared a public health emergency last week over the nationwide outbreak.

SALEM, Ore. — Public health officials held a press conference Thursday morning to provide an update on the status of the hMPXV or monkeypox outbreak in Oregon.

Speakers included state health officer and epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Lane County senior public health officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke and Katie Cox, executive director of The Equi Institute.

The update comes about a week after U.S. officials declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak. About 7,100 cases total had been reported at the time.

The virus spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, and in rare cases through contaminated surfaces. The people infected so far have been primarily — but not exclusively — men who have sex with men.

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Oregon has reported 95 total cases as of Wednesday, Aug. 10, according to the OHA's online dashboard, 60 of which are confirmed and 35 of which are presumptive. 

Nearly all of the cases have been in men, and more than half are in Multnomah County, with more than a dozen each in Washington and Lane counties.

The Oregon Health Authority has declared a local monkeypox disease outbreak, and issued a press release Wednesday reminding insurers that they are now required to cover the cost of monkeypox vaccine administration for their members.

U.S. health officials recently changed up their monkeypox vaccination strategy to try to get more use out of the limited supplies on hand.

Oregon detected its first probable case of monkeypox in mid-June, and Clark County identified its first case in late July.

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