AUSTIN, Texas – Travis County is now reporting community spread of monkeypox in Austin.
Austin Public Health (APH) confirmed six monkeypox cases and seven presumptive cases on Wednesday.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease and is part of the same family of viruses that cause smallpox, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox was first reported in Texas in early June in a resident of Dallas County who traveled internationally, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal. It can also be transmitted from person to person by inhaling large respiratory droplets or through close contact with body fluids and lesions, as well as bedding and other contaminated materials,” the Texas DSHS website states.
A CDC map currently shows 42 active cases of monkeypox in Texas.
“We need to be safe and follow practices we’ve learned from COVID-19 to prevent the spread of monkeypox here in our community,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority medical director Desmar Walkes. “Try to reduce close, intimate interactions with those whose health history you’re unaware of. Use hand sanitizer, and wear masks when in close quarters with others who have symptoms.”
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a rash that resembles pimples or blisters that appear on your face, inside of your mouth and other parts of your body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus, the CDC website states.
The rash goes through different stages before it heals completely and the illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms, while others only experience a rash, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox can be spread to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation and travel history.
“People should try to avoid skin-to-skin contact with strangers, especially those who have a rash or whose health history is unknown. The virus can also be spread through contaminated clothing or bed linens, and by sharing eating utensils or cups, cigarettes or vaping devices, kissing, and other activities where saliva might be exchanged with a person who has monkeypox,” APH officials said.
Texas DSHS says positive tests for the orthopoxvirus are considered presumptive monkeypox cases. Those samples are then sent to the CDC where they are confirmed through additional testing.
APH plans to update monkeypox case numbers every Thursday.