AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health, the local health authority and community health leaders gave their first media briefing on monkeypox Thursday. There are now nine confirmed cases of monkeypox in Travis County, as of the latest update, along with several presumed cases.
“We’ve learned from our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic that arming the community with education about what’s going on in the public health arena is beneficial to addressing those problems,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority, said. “Because then people can make informed decisions about how to protect themselves and thereby protect our community.”
The early cases of monkeypox reported in Travis County were travel-related, health leaders said. The virus is now moving through community spread “and it is possible for spread to occur,” Walkes said. She said monkeypox is very contagious.
“The virus is spread when someone is in contact with a person who has monkeypox and they touch the skin of that person where the rash is located, have sex with a person who has monkeypox, shares utensils or beverages with someone who has monkeypox or has splashing of body fluids in the eyes, mouth or genitalia” Walkes said. She also said it’s important to clean surfaces after someone with monkeypox touches them, including fabrics and clothes.
Walkes cited the CDC saying after a monkeypox infection there can be live virus left behind on surfaces. The CDC has released guidance for infection control if someone near you has symptoms or tests positive for monkeyvirus.
According to APH, symptoms of monkeypox include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters