King County Health Officials Investigating Area's First Presumptive Monkeypox Case


Seattle-King County health officials announced Monday they are investigating a "presumptive" case of monkeypox virus infection.

The case was reported to Public Health — Seattle & King County on Sunday, according to the agency.

The case "is in an adult male with international travel in the past month to a country that has also reported monkeypox cases recently," the health department said in a release Monday.

"Public Health is working with the patient and the patient's health care providers to identify individuals who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious," according to the release. "The individual is isolating and does not pose a risk to others at this time."

It added, "We have not identified any high-risk exposures in King County, and we are following up with people who had potential low risk exposures."

The individual was not hospitalized and is recovering at home, according to Monday's release.

"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."

No cases have been reported in Pierce County.

At least 160 confirmed cases of monkeypox that have been reported this month in non-African countries, according to monitoring site

Monkeypox is a rare viral illness rarely seen outside of the 11 countries in Africa that have reported cases, according to NBC News.

In a news conference Monday, Duchin told reporters, "Although I would not be surprised to see additional cases of monkeypox, I don't think that poses anywhere near the threat that COVID-19 poses. Because I don't think we'll see levels of transmission (as with COVID). I think it will ultimately be brought under control."

According to the health department, "The illness can begin with flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes followed by a rash on the face and body or with an isolated rash in the genital or groin area, sometimes without other symptoms. When the rash involves the groin, it can be mistaken for other more common causes of sexually transmitted infections."

It noted, "People should be alert for the appearance of new rashes characterized by sores, bumps or fluid filled bumps and seek medical evaluation if they develop such a rash."

Most patients recover in a few weeks, but monkeypox can be serious, especially for immunocompromised people, children and pregnant women.

According to Duchin: "This cluster of international cases 100-plus confirmed and suspect happens to include a significant number of men who have sex with men and they are presenting with lesions on the genitals that are assumed to be sexually transmitted. Because that is the skin that's involved in those cases."

He added, "Monkeypox can also be transmitted through clothing or sheets or bedding or other things that can become contaminated with the fluid from the rash. So, you know, theoretically if you're caring for someone who had monkeypox, you'd want to be careful in handling your linens and so on. And then it can also be spread through prolonged face to face contact from saliva that might get into someone else's eyes or mouth if you sneeze, for example, into their face."

Containment for monkeypox is simpler in ways than COVID, he noted.

"So people get symptoms, they can isolate themselves. If you're not in contact with other people when you have your skin rash, it will not spread, so it's a much easier disease to control," Duchin said.