TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) – The Bell County Public Health District has reported the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Bell County.
The Bell County Public Health District is working with local health care providers to investigate this initially confirmed case of monkeypox virus infection in a Bell County resident who recently traveled within the state. The patient is isolated and recovering at home.
A public health investigation identifies close contacts who may have been exposed, and they are monitored and evaluated. The disease does not currently pose a risk to the general public.
There are now 338 cases in the state, including the most recent in McLennan County, with the majority of those cases in the 18 to 39 age group.
“As the number of new cases statewide and in Texas continues to rise, the health district is working closely with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) and our local health care partners to identify potential cases and contain the spread ,” said Amy J. Yeager, District Director.
Monkeypox is an infection caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same class of viruses that cause smallpox and vaccinia, but not chickenpox.
Symptoms of monkeypox infection include fever, chills, headache, muscle and back pain, and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash 3-5 days after the fever begins. They may also experience respiratory symptoms (eg sore throat, stuffy nose or cough). Symptoms of monkeypox usually begin within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus.
If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. The rash can start anywhere on the body, but it most often starts on the face.
However, in the current outbreak, the rash often starts in the genital area. The rash may look like pimples or blisters. The illness usually lasts 2-4 weeks.
The main way people contract monkeypox is through close, personal contact with an infected person, including sexual contact.
It can also be transmitted from person to person by inhalation of large respiratory droplets or by close contact with body fluids and lesions, as well as contaminated materials (eg clothing or bedding, and by sharing cutlery or glasses, cigarettes or vaporizers, kissing, and other activities where saliva may be exchanged with a person who has monkeypox).
People should try to avoid skin-to-skin contact with strangers, especially those who have a rash or whose health history is unknown.
Pregnant women can also transmit the virus to the fetus through the placenta.
Monkeypox does not spread easily between people without close contact.
“Although the current outbreak is quite specific, it is important for the community to understand the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, what to do if they develop symptoms and know how the disease is transmitted,” said Amy J. Jaeger, director of BCPHD.
In most cases, the infection clears up without specific treatment, but people who are immunosuppressed, who are living with HIV, or who are pregnant are at higher risk of complications.
Children under the age of 8 are also at higher risk of more severe disease.
The best way to stop the further spread of this disease is to quickly identify anyone who is infected and their contacts.
If you think you may have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, you may be a candidate for the vaccine.
The vaccine is most effective if given within 4 days of exposure, but can be given up to 14 days after exposure.
If you develop any of the symptoms described above, please contact your healthcare provider or the Bell County Public Health Department immediately for instructions on what to do next at (254) 939-2091 or at [email protected]
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