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Gov. Inslee issues directive outlining monkeypox virus response

In his directive to state health officials, Inslee said MPV is an "evolving serious public health concern."

WASHINGTON — Governor Jay Inslee issued a directive to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Friday, outlining additional steps to address the rise in monkeypox (MPV) cases.

In his directive to state health officials, Inslee said MPV is an "evolving serious public health concern."

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first U.S. case of MPV on May 17. As of Aug. 11, there are 10,768 cases of MPV across the United States. 

There are 265 confirmed MPV cases in Washington state as of Friday, according to the DOH. King County reported 225 cases in the latest update, an increase of nearly 100 cases since the state's Aug. 3 update.    

Other cases were reported in Whatcom, Spokane, Snohomish, Pierce, Lewis, Yakima, Benton, Cowlitz, Clark, Mason and Kitsap counties.

Inslee said there have been no known deaths due to MPV in Washington state.

The latest directive asked the DOH to make the following priorities in response to MPV: 

  • Conduct comprehensive public outreach and education within appropriate communities and communities disproportionately impacted by the virus, working with and through trusted partners
  • Emphasize building relationships and engaging in outreach efforts to reach those individuals most at risk
  • Prioritize equitable distribution of existing treatments, including the limited supply of approved vaccine
  • Support provider education to ensure MPV vaccine is maximized to its fullest extent
  • Monitor case counts and demographic data
  • Convene a series of roundtables with key stakeholders and legislators to enhance communications and education related to MPV
  • Work with and support local health jurisdictions statewide as they manage MPV in their communities
  • Maintain adequate testing capacity at the Department’s Public Health Lab and address identified reporting gaps
  • Exercise available statutory authority to take appropriate disease control measures. Furthermore, it is my expectation that the Department will keep me informed of any developments as this public health concern evolves. Other state agencies stand ready to assist the Department, as needed, to provide a coordinated and swift response.

As more cases were confirmed, the DOH activated its MPV readiness team May 25. State officials launched a MPV response team on July 22.

Inslee said there is a limited supply of MPV vaccines available in the United States. 

DOH requested 96% of the vaccine doses allocated to the state by the federal government, leaving the other 4% for when it identifies more counties or Tribal communities that may need assistance.  

The MPV vaccine is a two-dose series. Health officials are prioritizing getting the first doses out quickly. 

Public Health - Seattle & King County held its first free community MPV vaccination event on Aug. 6. A long line wrapped around Seattle Central College for the event. 

County health officials received more than 4,000 doses last week, but the agency needs enough to vaccinate approximately 40,000 people. Its top priorities are getting more vaccines and meeting people where they are by holding weekend clinics.

Public health officials said if you need a vaccine, check with your provider or Harborview Sexual Health Clinic, which will be receiving more doses soon.

Inslee said in his directive that there are antiviral medications available to treat people with severe diseases and people at risk for severe diseases.

The MPV virus can spread through contact with an infectious rash, scabs or bodily fluid, prolonged respiratory face-to-face contact, or potentially from objects or clothing used by someone with the illness.

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