PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Mpox may have stopped making headlines since its outbreak in 2022, but Oregon health officials say the viral disease is far from gone for good.
The Oregon Health Authority has recorded at least 17 cases of Mpox, formerly known as Monkeypox, since July 20. In response, the agency says residents should consider getting the vaccine to reduce the likelihood of getting sick.
During the height of its outbreak in 2022, Mpox led to roughly 10-15 cases per week. Since then, OHA says Oregon saw one to three cases per month before July.
Dr. Tim Menza, the senior health adviser for OHA’s Mpox response, said the state’s current number of cases may not have reached the same spread as last year, but an increase is still a cause for concern.
“We never declared the 2022 outbreak over because we were concerned about increases like the one we are seeing now,” Menza said. “And it gives us an opportunity to remind folks in the community that vaccination against Mpox remains a valuable tool for reducing the risk of Mpox infection.”
The vaccine is free and available to all Oregon residents, regardless of their insurance coverage. OHA has recommended that healthcare providers consider the possibility of Mpox when they treat patients with possible symptoms.
The health agency provided the following information about the disease:
Mpox spreads primarily through close, skin-to-skin contact. Most often, it has spread through intimate or sexual contact, and during contact with the lesions of an individual with Mpox through a caregiving relationship, such as a parent caring for a child or an adult caretaker of another person.
Mpox symptoms can start between a few days to three weeks after contact. The most common are flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and feeling tired. Most people will develop a rash within a few days of the flu-like symptoms; some people only develop a rash, which may start on or near the penis, testicles, labia, vagina or anus. It may also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face or mouth.
When exposed to Mpox, the vaccine can help reduce the likelihood of developing these symptoms. According to OHA, a single dose of the Mpox vaccine is 75% effective and a double dose is 86% effective.
Oregon’s vaccination clinics can be searched by ZIP code with the state’s Mpox vaccine locator tool.
If you think you have already been exposed to Mpox, you should see your doctor – though OHA warns you should let them know of your symptoms beforehand. Those without insurance can call 211 to find a clinic.