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Protecting health care workers from monkeypox: Washington L&I offers guidance

Photo: Bill Oxford/iStockphoto

Tumwater, WA — Health care workers should rely on their clinical recognition skills, workplace safety protocols and personal protective equipment to avoid contracting and spreading monkeypox, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries advises.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that spreads mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who’s infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include a rash that can look like pimples or blisters, fever, exhaustion, headache, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. On July 23, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the disease a global health emergency.

Washington L&I says health care workers can help prevent the spread of monkeypox – which can easily be mistaken for other rash-causing illnesses – by considering patients who present with a rash could have the disease and taking appropriate precautions. That includes placing patients with a suspected or confirmed case in a single-person room with the door closed, if it’s safe to do so. Additionally, medical procedures that are likely to spread oral secretions should be done in an airborne infection isolation room. Using portable fans, dry dusting, sweeping or vacuuming – which could suspend dried material from a rash’s lesions – should be avoided.


Recommended PPE when caring for a patient with a suspected or confirmed case include a gown, gloves, eye protection (goggles or faceshields), and an N95 or other NIOSH-approved respirator.

The Washington State Department of Health reported its first confirmed monkeypox case on May 27. The person didn’t require hospitalization and isolated at home.

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