The monkeypox virus continues to circulate in King County and is now likely spreading between residents, local health officials confirmed Wednesday morning.

As of this week, public health leaders have identified nine King County infections — a little over a month since the first case was found in Washington state and confirmed in a King County man in late May. While the virus is rarely identified outside Africa, about 7,000 cases have been detected globally in the recent outbreak, including about 560 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What to know about monkeypox

Because recent cases of monkeypox have been identified in King County residents who did not travel during the time they would have been exposed, local transmission is likely, King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a statement.

“Finding monkeypox in residents who were likely exposed locally highlights the importance for people who are at higher risk for monkeypox and for health care providers to be able to recognize the symptoms promptly, and to take steps to limit the risk for infection and the spread to others,” Duchin said. “We expect to see additional cases locally as the outbreak grows in the U.S. and globally.”

One of the nine King County residents infected was hospitalized but has since been released, Public Health – Seattle & King County spokesperson Sharon Bogan said in an email.

No further information was immediately available about the people who have been infected or the severity of their illnesses.


Public Health – Seattle & King County urged anyone with a new rash to visit a health care provider for an assessment, noting that people should also be aware the rate of syphilis is rising in King County and nationally.

“In the current outbreak, people have presented with skin lesions that may resemble common sexually transmitted infection such as herpes or syphilis,” Duchin said. “Some cases are more subtle and might be missed if people aren’t looking for them.”

Infections that have emerged from the recent global outbreak are rarely fatal, though at least one patient in Nigeria has died from the virus, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization. According to the update, the majority of global laboratory-confirmed cases have been detected in Europe, with particularly large outbreaks in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Portugal.

While the spread of monkeypox — also related to the virus that causes smallpox — in the U.S. and Europe is unusual, researchers have anticipated more frequent global outbreaks for years, said Heather Koehler, an assistant professor in molecular biosciences at Washington State University.

“Prior to this point, our population was protected against monkeypox because most of the prior generation was vaccinated for smallpox,” said Koehler, who studies monkeypox in her lab. “Now that our population is becoming less and less immune-privileged, we’re going to see it increase the susceptibility within our general population regardless of area.”

People who get sick with monkeypox commonly experience flu-like symptoms, including a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and exhaustion, according to local health officials. Most people also develop a painful rash.


Unlike the coronavirus, monkeypox does not spread through the air over longer distances, among other differences. Monkeypox is primarily spread through large droplets or the exchange of bodily fluids.

While most patients recover in two to four weeks, according to Public Health -Seattle & King County, the disease can be particularly serious for children or those who are immunocompromised, have a history of eczema or who are pregnant.

While no specific treatments are currently widely available for a monkeypox infection, the CDC is focusing on distributing the Jynneos vaccine. It has FDA approval to prevent smallpox and monkeypox, controlling the spread of the virus, the statement said.

The CDC recommends the vaccine be given within four days of exposure for the best chance of preventing severe disease. If given between four and 14 days after exposure, vaccination might reduce severity of the disease but might not prevent infection, according to public health officials.

While the national supply of monkeypox vaccine is limited, the federal government last week ordered 2.5 million more doses of the vaccine, which are expected to arrive later this year.

In King County, health officials are expecting about 500 vaccine doses from the state Department of Health, which is distributing shots throughout the state.

More information about the virus and its risk factors are available at Public Health – Seattle & King County’s news website.

“When we think about what our reaction should be, it should be based off a respect that viruses are in our population,” Koehler said. “We’re never going to get away from viruses causing disease in humans. … But don’t be afraid. Be alert. And be respectful of the virus.”