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Monkeypox cases declining in WA, outbreak trajectory unclear

Sep 14, 2022, 7:35 PM
Research Scientist Dr. Margaret Mills sets up an instrument that extracts DNA for Monkeypox virus t...
Research Scientist Dr. Margaret Mills sets up an instrument that extracts DNA for Monkeypox virus testing at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory on July 12, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (AP) — Monkeypox cases are decreasing in Washington state, likely because of a combination of factors including behavioral change and the vaccination of high-risk communities, health officials said.

The drop in infections statewide is directly linked to the drop in cases in King County, which includes Seattle, The Seattle Times reported.

Since a peak in late July, the weekly case rate in King County fell 66% to 22 cases in the week of Aug. 28. Early counts for the week of Sept. 4 show 10 cases so far.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health, Seattle & King County, also said more people may have some immunity from infection as more susceptible people have been exposed to the virus.

Health officials are hesitant to claim the outbreak is under control, however.

“It can be a painful and difficult illness, so ideally, we wouldn’t want to see any cases. But it will take some time to see what type of trajectory the outbreak takes,” spokesperson Sharon Bogan said.

As of Sept. 7, 10,444 residents across Washington have received at least one shot of the Jynneos vaccine, according to state health department data. About 6% of these people got a second dose after 28 days. The Jynneos vaccine is a two-dose vaccine series, with two doses given four weeks apart.

In King County, more than 9,800 residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine — about a quarter of the 40,000 King County residents the county health department estimates are either at the “highest” or at an “elevated” risk for exposure.

The health department estimates 80,000 doses are needed to adequately address the outbreak.

Monkeypox can affect anyone who has close contact with an infected person. This outbreak has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ community, particularly men who report intimate contact with other men.

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Monkeypox cases declining in WA, outbreak trajectory unclear