PORTLAND, OR -- With 89 presumed and confirmed cases of hMPXV in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown urges everyone to take precautions against the virus commonly called “monkeypox.” But infectious disease experts say there is no need to panic. “Although we anticipate that we will see cases rise, and more cases in the near term, not to the same number of cases that we saw with COVID,” says Dr. Katie Sharff, Chief of Infectious Disease for Kaiser Permanente in Portland.
She tells KBND News, “Although this is very debilitating and very uncomfortable for the individuals that suffer from this infection, the case fatality rate is extraordinarily low. I think there have been a handful of fatalities worldwide, and none yet reported in the US.”
However, she worries people aren’t talking openly about who is most at risk, “The majority of cases are in men who have sex with men. But within that social network, it’s a small subset; it’s men who have sex with men with multiple anonymous sexual partners.” And, there is a lot of misinformation and ignorance about how people catch the virus. Dr. Sharff says it’s spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact; not daily activities.
Kaiser starts vaccinating people Tuesday, but only those deemed at high risk because availability is limited. Dr. Sharff says, “In Oregon, we have received 6,800 doses.” Nationwide, there are 600,000 doses, with another 800,00 expected soon.