Is Washington’s Monkeypox Problem Getting Any Better?
Is Washington's monkeypox problem getting any better? Yes. Monkeypox cases are currently on the decline in Washington. In fact, reports of infection are down 40% across the entire United States.
Another positive is that the stigma attached to the virus, that it's "a gay disease" is also lessening, as the public is educated about the various ways you can come into contact with the virus. More on that below.
Less heartening is the low number of vaccinations in Washington State. The Washington Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control emphasize that the monkeypox outbreak isn't over yet. The decline in cases could be temporary. And it doesn't mean monkeypox is going away altogether. The best way to combat monkeypox is through vaccination.
Who Can Get Monkeypox?
Short answer: all of us.
Leading the number of monkeypox cases in Washington State are white people, which should come as no shock because 73.53% of Washington residents are Caucasian.
Unfortunately there are a growing number of cases in other communities. Hispanics, in particular, have had a large number of infections in King County, with the black population the next hardest hit, and then the Asian community, multi-racial, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
How to Protect Yourself Against Monkeypox
The drop in monkeypox cases is likely due to behavioral changes. Here's what those changes look like:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don't touch objects/fabrics that have been touched by someone with monkeypox. This is one reason why a clean table at a restaurant is important. And clean bedding at a hotel.
- Avoid close face-to-face contact. Respiratory secretions are a risk.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact.
Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox. -CDC
- If you do have a romantic and/or sexual encounter with a stranger, be sure to get that person's contact information in case you need to inform them about an infection, and visa versa.
What to Do if You Have an Unexplained Rash
Get checked out by your healthcare provider as soon as possible. In the meantime:
- Avoid having sex.
- Avoid gatherings.
- Wear a mask if you are going to have close face-to-face encounters.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your recent contacts, including romantic/sexual.
Who is Eligible for a Monkeypox Vaccine?
- Men who have sex with other men.
- Sex workers.
- Sexual assault victims.
- Users of methamphetamines.
- Anyone who has come into close contact with an infected person.
We don't know how the current monkeypox virus outbreak will play out. But we do know the best ways to protect ourselves, as outlined above. Be safe.