The hMPX virus, otherwise known as “monkeypox,” is a DNA virus related to smallpox. Oregon Health Authority reports one confirmed case in the state, with more than six other cases unconfirmed. While the virus is not a sexually-transmitted disease, in the U.S. it is being spread primarily through sex, according to Dr. Tim Menza, a senior health advisor at OHA.
“The flu is also a virus that can be spread through sex,” he said.
All of the current cases in the state are found in men, and according to Menza, the global outbreak – in particular its American version – is impacting mostly men who have sex with other men.
“For the community, especially members of the LGBTQI+ community, we have to take a deep breath,” Menza said. “hMPXV may call up the deep trauma of having lived through two pandemics only to face a potential third.”
Menza said the current situation warrants caution, but not panic.
“We currently have 193 doses of vaccine for the virus here in the state, and we’re working with our federal partners to obtain more,” he said.
With only one confirmed case and fewer than 10 other suspected cases in the state, Menza thinks the problem is manageable, but people should be cautious and observant.
He said the virus presents symptoms very similar to flu, including swelling of the lymph nodes and a itchy rash commonly around the genital area. The symptoms last between two to four weeks, and there have so-far been no fatalities reported in the state from hMPXV.
Menza said the vaccine can be administered either after infection or as a precaution ahead of time, though with the current supply, the OHA is prioritizing people who have been exposed. He said anti-viral treatment is also available for high-risk patients.