It’s been almost a year since Oregon reported its first case of mpox (monkeypox). That number has since risen to 279, including two pediatric cases (under age 18). But new cases have been trickling in slowly, and the initial fears shared by health experts about potential spread and illness have shifted to cautious optimism.
“We feel pretty good about the progress we made over the past year in terms of preparedness,” said Dr. Tim Menza, OHA senior health advisor and OHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience. “Due to the work of the queer and transgender community, local public health partners and health care providers throughout Oregon, the mpox outbreak has been relatively contained in Oregon. We now have the necessary tools to prevent a resurgence.”
Those tools include an ample supply of mpox vaccines, which wasn’t the case a year ago.
The Jynneos vaccine against mpox is available to anyone who wants it, of any age, for free. It is administered in two doses, received at least 28 days apart. If someone received only one dose a year ago, for example, they can still get the second dose now, without restarting the series.
The Malheur County Health Department has Mpox vaccine available. Call our clinic at 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.
“At this point, we encourage anyone who wants to be vaccinated against mpox to get vaccinated,” Menza said. “We also have better access to testing and treatment, stronger community partnerships for outreach, education and vaccine events, as well as very good data on mpox cases to guide Oregon’s outbreak response.”
Mpox causes often painful skin lesions that usually heal in two to four weeks without medical treatment, and it spreads primarily through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact. While mpox most often spreads during sexual contact, sex is not required for mpox to spread. Out of more than 30,000 cases in the United States since the outbreak began, 42 people have died. The majority of deaths have occurred among people living with advanced or untreated HIV or other immunocompromising conditions. In Oregon, five people have been hospitalized with mpox to date, and none has died.
MPOX BY THE NUMBERS
- Global – 87,314 cases, including 129 deaths (as of May 9)
- United States – 30,395 cases, including 42 deaths (as of May 10)
- Oregon – 279 cases, including 5 hospitalizations; 0 deaths (as of May 11)
Globally, the World Health Organization has just declared the mpox outbreak no longer a global health emergency, recommending a shift to a “robust, proactive and sustainable mpox response and control program,” versus the emergency status.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not declared the mpox outbreak over, but things have slowed down dramatically.
Here in Oregon, the rate of new mpox cases peaked in August 2022 at about 10 per week. Now, the state has diagnosed five new cases in the past three months. The question is: do these sporadic new cases represent on-going, steady, low-level virus transmission that’s here to stay, or do they signal a possible future end to all mpox transmission?
Unfortunately, we’re not yet able to answer that question.
Menza is paying close attention to mpox resurgences happening in other places, specifically new clusters of cases in Chicago, France and South Korea.
“Those outbreaks raise our level of concern,” Menza said. “Moving toward summer travel and Pride events across Oregon and the U.S. over the next several months, we could see a similar situation with increased cases in Oregon.”
If you’re planning to travel this summer, especially to places reporting recent clusters of new cases, Menza advises the best way to protect yourself and prevent a resurgence back home in Oregon is to get vaccinated.