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Sept. 26, 2022

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Inslee issues directive outlining monkeypox virus response

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OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a directive to the Washington State Department of Health outlining additional steps to address the rise in monkeypox cases.

In his Friday directive to state health officials, Inslee called the disease an “evolving serious public health concern,” KING-TV reported.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first U.S. case of the disease on May 17. As of Aug. 11, there were more than 10,700 cases across the United States.

As of Friday, Washington state had confirmed 265 monkeypox cases. King County recently reported 225 cases, 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 no known deaths have been attributed to monkeypox in Washington state.

The directive asked the Department of Health to take actions including conducting comprehensive public outreach and education within appropriate communities and communities disproportionately impacted by the virus; prioritizing equitable distribution of existing treatments — including the limited supply of approved vaccine — and to monitor case counts and demographic data, among other measures.

Other state agencies are ready to assist the Department of Health, as needed, to provide a coordinated and swift response, Inslee said.

The Department of Health activated its monkeypox readiness team May 25. State officials launched a response team on July 22.

The World Health Organization declared the global spread of monkeypox to be an international emergency in July and the U.S. declared its own epidemic to be a national emergency earlier this month.

Outside of Africa, 98% of cases are in men who have sex with men. With only a limited global supply of vaccines, authorities are working to stop monkeypox before it becomes entrenched as a new disease.

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