The number of active mpox cases has decreased dramatically in the last year, according to the Oregon Health Authority. However, the virus that causes a painful rash has continued to spread in the community through close skin-to-skin contact.
Also known as monkeypox, the virus has disproportionately affected men who have sex with men and are Latino or Black.
“We have the tools to prevent a resurgence in Oregon, including testing, vaccination, treatment, strong community partnerships and data to guide our response,” said Dr. Tim Menza, senior health adviser for Oregon Health Authority’s mpox response, in a statement. “As we gather and travel for Pride celebrations in Oregon and around the country next month, we can use these tools now to help us avoid repeating the outbreak of 2022.”
Though the virus does not require sexual contact to spread, sexual activities that involve being naked with another person are among the behaviors Menza has previously listed as higher risk. As OPB has previously reported, it is also possible to contract the disease by using towels or bedding shared with an infected person.
Since the outbreak began, 280 Oregonians, two of them younger than 18, have contracted mpox. The case rate is down to one to three reported per month from 10 to 15 per week in August 2022.
As of mid-May, 13,084 Oregonians have received first doses of the mpox vaccine, according to the health authority. Just more than half of those people received a second dose, which increases protection. There are about 5,381 people who remain eligible for a second dose but have not yet received it.
Oregon Health Authority officials said in a statement the vaccine is free and readily available to Oregonians. Those who don’t have a health care provider can call 211 for help finding a place to get the vaccine in their county.