AUSTIN (KXAN) — After the first assumed monkeypox case was reported in Travis County last week, the Austin-Travis County health authority said several people are now under investigation or being monitored locally for the smallpox-like virus.

“It’s not just travel related; we are having community spread so we are preparing for that,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the health authority, said in a Travis County commissioners court briefing where she also talked about COVID-19. “We are requesting medical countermeasures.”

Walkes said APH has been monitoring several cases since the beginning of June. Once a case is confirmed, APH requests medications from the strategic national stockpile to treat those people. APH has also opened an operations center, she said.

According to the APH, monkeypox is rare and does not spread easily between people without close contact. The virus can spread from person-to-person through: 

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids 
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling or sex 
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids 
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta 

APH added symptoms of monkeypox can include: 

  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches and backache 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Chills 
  • Exhaustion 
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands/palms, feet, chest, genitals, or anus. 
  • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. This process can take several weeks