Lane County health officials on Friday reported two suspected cases of smallpox, bringing the state’s total known cases to three.
Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis told The Oregonian/Oregon Live that the two cases are unrelated. And no one has traveled recently, raising concerns about the extent of the disease in Oregon.
“Almost every case I’ve heard of across the country has a travel history,” Davis said. “This is very important, which means it is definitely present in our community.”
Health officials have sent test samples to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
The first known case of monkeypox was reported in Oregon two weeks ago, and this person recently traveled to a location where there were confirmed cases.
With the World Championships in Athletics starting in two weeks in Eugene and expected to attract thousands of people, Davis encourages county residents to be aware of symptoms and be vigilant to monitor them.
Monkeypox virus, generally restricted to central and western Africa, is spread primarily by close physical contact. Symptoms begin within two weeks of exposure and include headache, muscle aches, and rash. The rash starts with flat red marks that eventually swell with pus. The infection usually lasts for two to four weeks, and most people recover without treatment.
The virus is related to smallpox, although it is usually less severe, which means that smallpox antiviral drugs can be used for those with severe cases of monkeypox.
There have been more than 400 smallpox cases in the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 5,000 cases worldwide.
The United States has ordered more than 4 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine, to be delivered later this year and in 2023, Bloomberg Reports. The smallpox vaccine is also an option to fight the virus, but it can have serious side effects and is not recommended for people with weakened immune systems.
“This is a really community-wide problem,” Davis said of the smallpox arrival in Oregon. “We need to do everything we can to try to contain this.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story claimed that the two issues are connected. Other lab results showed no.
– Austin of God; [email protected]; austindeios. (503) 319-9744