News Flash

Health - Public Health News

Posted on: August 3, 2022

Health Department Investigating First Monkeypox Virus Case in Whatcom County

On Monday we sent you a message that Whatcom County could see our first case of monkeypox virus (MPV) very soon, and now we can confirm that a Whatcom County resident has a confirmed case of MPV. 

A person in their 50s tested positive yesterday (Tuesday, Aug. 2). This person was not hospitalized and is isolating at home. 

The first cases in Washington were linked to international travel. Whatcom County’s first case appears to be linked to exposure in King County. We are working to identify anyone who may be a close contact of our first case. We have a limited amount of vaccine on hand to administer to any high priority close contacts of the infected person.


“It is important for people to know that risk to the general public remains low,” said Amy Harley, Co-Health Officer for the Whatcom County Health Department. “We have been preparing for the possibility of MPV in Whatcom County for the last few months. The US has successfully controlled outbreaks of MPV in the past. This virus is not spread as easily as COVID-19 and we already have vaccines and treatments available.” 


MPV causes a rash that looks like bumps, sores, blisters or ulcers. Some people also have flu-like symptoms. 


MPV is a viral disease not often seen in the United States. For most people, the risk of serious illness is also low. No one in the U.S. has died in the current outbreak. However, the disease can be serious, especially for children, people who are immunocompromised, or pregnant. 


Anyone can get MPV. The virus spreads during close, physical contact with: 

  • MPV rash, sores or scabs.
  • Objects, fabrics or surfaces a person with MPV used.
  • Respiratory droplets or oral fluids from a person with MPV.
  • MPV can spread as soon as symptoms start until all sores heal and a fresh layer of skin forms. This can be several weeks.

It can take up to three weeks from the date of exposure before someone develops symptoms, although in most cases symptoms develop within 7-14 days. 


If you have a painful new rash, sores, or other symptoms:

  • Avoid sex or intimate contact.
  • Work with the WCHD to identify and reach out to contacts who may have been exposed and could be eligible for vaccine to prevent illness.
  • See your healthcare provider. Remind them MPV may be circulating in the community.
  • There are antiviral treatments available to those who have severe disease


Men who have sex with men may be at higher risk because the virus is spreading in these communities. 

For more information, read the news flash we posted last week, and visit the DOH MPV website at 

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