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Health officials stress importance of testing, prevention as monkeypox cases climb

There are 392 cases of monkeypox in Washington, 312 of those are in King County.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The Washington Department of Health (DOH) held a briefing Thursday to address the importance of testing, prevention and removing the stigma associated with monkeypox (MPV).

Washington State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah urged Washingtonians to get any unknown rashes checked out, keep them covered and don't expose them to others. Another way to prevent the spread of the virus is to answer calls from the DOH. They will call if someone's been exposed.

The DOH also provided an update to the number of cases. There are 392 cases in Washington, 318 of those are in King County. Washington also has two confirmed pediatric cases.

In the U.S., there are 16,926 cases and 46,724 cases globally, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Executive Director of Washington State LGBTQ Commission Manny Santiago stressed that while this disease is disproportionately impacting the LGBTQ community, it does not make this a "gay disease."

"Words have power and they have the power to stop the stigmatization of a community that has already lived through a similar experience when the HIV virus was first discovered in the 1980s," Santiago said.

Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said there is a lot of access to testing for monkeypox, which can help contain the virus.

Lindquist said everyone should be compassionate to those who are suffering from monkeypox because it can be very painful and happen to anyone.

"Three hundred and ninety-two people with a new disease is very disturbing," Lindquist said.

Officials also urge the public to make use of the MPV hotline. Anyone can call to get information about MPV. The phone number is (833) 829-HELP.

The full DOH briefing from Thursday can be found below:

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