US Surgeon General: Monkeypox virus may be transmissible through sexual contact

If you have symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor.

SAN ANTONIO – The United States Surgeon General is saying the new outbreak of the monkeypox virus is something we need to be aware of, but not necessarily to worry about.

That’s something San Antonio-area doctors agree with.

Dr. Vivtek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, said we should be on the lookout for more cases, but as of now there’s only one in the country and it’s in Massachusetts.

Beyond that, no cases of monkeypox have been reported in Texas or the South.

There is a cluster however in nearby Canada and quite a few in European countries such as Spain.

The initial symptoms are traditional, much like the flu virus, or even Covid-19. Fever, headache, muscle and backaches, fatigue and chills. It’s what happens in about three days that’s the real problem. That’s when a rash develops, which continues to bloom into lesions.

Fluid from those lesions and prolonged close contact are the two ways monkeypox spreads. But this time there’s another issue that doctors are investigating.

In the dozens or so cases in Europe, none of them appear to be connected to a trip to Africa, where the virus is known to originate, but rather through sexual contact.

Doctors like Dr. Tess Barton, University Health Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, said that’s surprising.

“That’s not a normal previously-described method of transmission of this particular virus, but it does make sense because it requires, you know, kind of close face-to-face contact,” she said.

It can also be transmitted if an infected person’s body fluid attaches to fabric like sheets or clothing. Once you have symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor.

“These viruses, they can cause pneumonias and other more severe complications and they do have a fairly high fatality rate. Perhaps 10% or so of people may die with monkeypox,” said Barton.

The infection tends to last for a few weeks and can leave scars. But there is some good news. If you have received the smallpox vaccine, you likely won’t get monkeypox since they belong to the same family of viruses. That said, the fact that most countries no longer issue widespread smallpox vaccines anymore, a window of new opportunity for the virus may have been found.

About the Author:

Ursula Pari has been a staple of television news in Texas at KSAT 12 News since 1996 and a veteran of broadcast journalism for more than 30 years.