UW Medicine’s Virology Lab commences Monkeypox testing

SEATTLE, Wash. — As the Washington Department of Health has detected 34 confirmed and presumable cases of Monkeypox throughout the state, the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is providing an inside look at their Virology Lab.

In recent years, it’s come in handy to process hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests.

Now, they’re adding on another task.

“This is something we do all the time, for lots and lots and lots of DNA viruses,” Dr. Alex Greninger said.

Greninger is an Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine at UW’s School of Medicine. He said their turnaround time to process Monkeypox tests is around one to two days, depending on when it’s sent.

If the news of Monkeypox makes you uneasy, Dr. Greninger had some words of comfort.

“It’s not going to be like COVID obviously, but we’re going to see more cases than what people normally expect and certainly more than we’ve ever seen before – I mean, that’s already true right now. The mortality is much lower than what historically people talked about from different varieties of monkeypox. So that’s good news. It seems relatively self-limiting. But, combined with the lack of immunity to pox viruses and exhaustion from public health, the amount of travel, and everything else going on, I’d expect it to sort of establish itself at a low-medium level over the summer,” he said.

UW Medicine said healthcare providers elsewhere can order Monkeypox tests if they suspect their patient has the virus.

“Help people, help our public health colleagues find cases, and all of our results will go straight to public health, and help physicians and individuals who are concerned obtain testing,” Dr. Greninger explained.

Additionally, UW Medicine said Monkeypox has a large genome, so it can’t evolve as fast as COVID-19, for example.

Still, they are prepared to sequence Monkeypox tests to see if it creates variants.

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