Oregon looks to acquire additional monkeypox vaccines as cases rise globally


Shane Ersland


Oregon health officials are preparing to acquire additional monkeypox vaccines as cases rise worldwide.


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Dr. Tim Menza, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Senior Health Advisor for the state’s monkeypox response team, gave an update on the virus’ (hMPXV) impact on the state and throughout the country Thursday. The US has seen a total of 605 cases in 34 states, he said. The World Health Organization reported a 77% weekly increase in lab-confirmed cases, up to more than 6,000 worldwide, on Thursday.

Oregon has seen 1 confirmed and 5 presumptive cases, with 3 of the presumptive cases identified Wednesday. The confirmed cases are in Multnomah, Lane, and Washington counties, Menza said. 

“Confirmed cases have tested positive for hMPXV at the CDC while presumptive cases have tested positive for orthopoxviruses, which is the broad family of viruses to which hMPXV belongs, at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory (OSPHL),” Menza said.

OHA officials are working to acquire additional hMPXV vaccines. The state currently has 193 doses, with further federal allocation pending, Menza said. Officials will focus on distributing the doses to those who have been exposed to it. 

“We’re currently waiting to hear word, I believe it may happen this week or next week, of the number of doses we may see in Oregon in the next few weeks,” Menza said. “That vaccine planning and rollout at the federal level is still happening, and we’ll be getting more information there in the next few days, in the next few weeks. We’re working with federal partners as much as we can to get more vaccines.”

The federal government recently announced the deployment of 296,000 doses over the coming weeks. An additional 1.6 million doses will be available in the coming months.

OHA has also expanded options for testing for hMPXV. It will now allow health care providers to send monkeypox tests directly to the OSPHL without prior approval, which was previously needed, Menza said. Providers can also send tests to LabCorp.

Symptoms of monkeypox illness include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and exhaustion, Menza said. 

“The rash may appear at the same time or 5 days later, and generally involves the face, palms, mouth, and less often the genitals and eyes,” Menza said. 

The virus is transmitted during direct, close, personal, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has symptoms. It can also be transmitted through objects used by a person affected by the virus. Transmission can occur during close-contact activities such as sex, cuddling, and massage.

While anyone can be affected by hMPXV, the current global outbreak largely affects gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, Menza said. 

“Our priority should be empowering men who have sex with men, the larger LGBTQ communities, and their health care providers with information, testing, prevention, and treatment strategies,” he said.