Local health officials are preparing for the arrival of monkeypox in North Central Washington.

Dr. James Wallace, interim health officer with the Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD) says it’s just a matter of time until a greater number of infections are reported beyond the state’s more populated areas.

“We haven’t had any cases in Chelan-Douglas Health District, although cases across Washington are increasing. The majority of those are in Western Washington but we anticipate the spread to come eastward.”

As of Friday, August 12, there were 254 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Washington. Over 84 percent of those (215) are in King County, and 27 of the state’s 39 counties have no confirmed cases of the illness.

Dr. Wallace says CDHD has been working for several months to establish a system for detecting, preventing, and treating the virus.

“We’ve got a process for testing in place. Currently, there’s a short supply of the vaccine that’s available, as well as treatments for severe cases. But as those resources become more available, we’ll be able to get those out to broader segments of the population.”

Dr. Wallace says monkeypox is not as severe or contagious as COVID-19 and he does not expect it to create a similar-scale public health emergency.

He adds that health officials have also had more time to prepare for the spread of monkeypox, which should continue to aid in lessening its impact on the public.

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