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Monkeypox is not a new virus, and health officials are prepared if it arrives in Oregon.

STEPHEN AUSMUS/USDA ARS VIA CAPITAL PRESS - Chicken farms can be devastated if avian flu breaks out among the animals.
Two public health warnings have been issued for contagious diseases, neither of which poses an immediate threat to people in Oregon.

The Centers for Disease Control on Friday. May 26 issued a warning for public health officials across the United States to be vigilant in reporting possible cases of monkeypox, which have been reported in a handful of states and several European countries.

"There are no presumptive or confirmed cases to date in Oregon," Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said Thursday.

Modie said the overall risk of monkeypox to people in Oregon is low. Monkeypox is not a new virus, and health officials are prepared if it arrives in Oregon.

"Vaccine and medications for prevention and treatment of monkeypox are available, should anyone in Oregon experience a high-risk exposure or become infected," Modie said.

The monkeypox announcement came as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a quarantine zone in Malheur County in an attempt to contain a suspected outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced the quarantine in a statement Friday.

Nationwide, an estimated 38 million birds have been found on 355 infected flocks in 35 states. The total includes an estimated 569 birds in Oregon and 488 in Idaho.

The Centers for Disease Control has reported rare cases of bird flu in humans this year. Infected birds shed bird flu virus through their saliva, mucus and feces. Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when the virus gets into a person's eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

Human-to-human infection is very rare, the CDC said.

"However, because of the possibility that bird flu viruses could change and gain the ability to spread easily between people, monitoring for human infection and person-to-person spread is extremely important for public health," the CDC warned.

Monkeypox

A somewhat less virulent form of the monkeypox virus has been reported this month in Europe and North America. Though far less contagious than COVID-19, it has a much higher fatality rate.

Cases reported in Britain and the United States so far are of the West African strain, which the World Health Organization says kills about 1 of every 100 people infected. The other version, the Congo Basin strain, kills 1 in 10 people infected.

The CDC-reported cases have been in California, Washington, Utah, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia.

All of the cases "are within gay, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a statement Friday. Walensky called for a response "guided by science, not by stigma."

Monkeypox received its name when it was discovered in the primate in 1958. But it can be spread by contact with a number of infected animals and by human-to-human transmission.

Unlike COVID-19, outward signs of infections are more significant.

Infections begin with nausea and other flu-like symptoms. It leads to swelling of the lymph nodes and fluid-filled bumps on the skin. The current version often has first appeared as a rash in the genital area. It can spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, sores, and other skin-to-skin contact.

Monkeypox can also spread by contact with clothes or bedding of a person with lesions. Prolonged face-to-face contact without masking can spread through respiratory droplets of the infected person or animal being breathed in by the uninfected.

As of noon on Friday, the international health data sharing system Microreact listed nine confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States.

There have been 365 suspected and confirmed cases in 11 countries since the first reported case in the current outbreak was reported by an English hospital on May 4.

The Microreact monitoring website can be seen at microreact.org/project/monkeypox.

Avian flu

State and federal agencies report that on May 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) confirmed a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Idaho along the Oregon border, requiring the creation of a quarantine area in Malheur County.

In Oregon, the USDA reported 450 birds were affected in what was classified as a backyard producer in Lane County and 90 birds in a backyard producer of non-poultry birds in Linn County. The Lane and Linn county avian flu cases were reported earlier in May. The disease was also detected in wild birds in Lane County.

The USDA website showed Idaho has reported 12 outbreaks involving a total of 488 birds, with 468 in Ada County, the southwestern county that includes the capital of Boise. Two outbreaks totaling 20 birds were reported in Canyon County, which includes the cities of Nampa and Nyssa. All of the cases involved backyard producers, with the majority of infected birds listed as poultry, but also cases involving several non-poultry birds as well.

Both Ada and Canyon counties are close to the Oregon border.

International rules require the immediate creation of quarantine areas to halt the spread of the disease. The regional quarantine bars the movement of poultry from within this quarantine area for an as-yet unspecified period.

Oregon law requires the quarantine areas to extend a minimum of 10 kilometers around an infected property.

Organizers of events involving birds must contact the Oregon State Veterinarian, Ryan Scholz, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-347-7028 immediately and must inform event exhibitors and vendors of the quarantine.

The emergency rules are online at the Oregon Secretary of State's website.

For more information go to the Oregon Department of Agriculture's avian influenza page. Information is also available in Spanish.

The Oregon Capital Press is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.


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