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Presumptive case of the monkeypox virus investigated in Washington

The case is an adult male who recently traveled internationally to a country that reported monkeypox cases recently.

SEATTLE — Health officials are investigating a presumptive case of the monkeypox virus in King County.

The case, reported to Public Health - Seattle & King County on Sunday, is an adult male who recently traveled internationally to a country that reported monkeypox cases recently.

Initial testing that confirmed an infection was done Monday. Further testing will be done at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The man is not hospitalized and is recovering at home. He does not pose a risk to others at this time, according to King County health officials. 

Health officials are working with the patient and healthcare providers to identify people who may have been exposed to the man while he was infectious. 

“The public and healthcare providers should be aware of the growing international monkeypox outbreak,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “At this time, we have no evidence that monkeypox is spreading locally, but if there are unrecognized cases, that is a possibility.”

Monkeypox is a virus that originates in wild animals like rodents and primates, and occasionally jumps to people. Most human cases have been in central and west Africa, where the disease is endemic.

The illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox. The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.

Monkeypox belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but causes milder symptoms.

Most patients experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

The incubation period is from about five days to three weeks. Most people recover within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized.

Monkeypox can be fatal for up to one in 10 people and is thought to be more severe in children.

People exposed to the virus are often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox. Anti-viral drugs are also being developed.

This is the first time monkeypox appears to be spreading among people who didn't travel to Africa. 

In Europe, infections have been reported in Britain, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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