First ‘probable’ cases of monkeypox reported in Fort Bend County, health department says

FORT BEND COUNTY – The Fort Bend County Office of Health and Human Services was investigating the first “probable” cases of monkeypox in the area Thursday afternoon.

According to a news release, patients who likely have the virus have been in contact with someone who may have been exposed to it.

The FBCHHS Department of Epidemiology received preliminary positive results on Wednesday, July 13 and then on July 14 from the Houston Health Department laboratory. The samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory for confirmation. Fort Bend epidemiologists are conducting contact tracing to identify potential exposures based on proximity and behaviors that would increase the risk of transmission of this disease, according to the release.

The Fort Bend County Office of Health and Human Services has two probable cases reported at press time, but has additional results pending. The preliminary case count is based on probable lab reports, with official lab confirmations coming from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, according to Fort Bend County Health and Human Services.

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Those suspected cases are currently being monitored and are currently isolated at their homes, the department said.

“The confirmation of monkeypox in Fort Bend County is something we take seriously, and our Department of Health and Human Services has been prepared to respond to an event since the virus was first detected in the U.S. earlier in the year,” the county judge said Fort Bend K. P. George. “As we did with the Covid-19 virus, we will continue to receive updates from our Department of Health and Human Services as they closely monitor this public health emergency.” We will continue to inform our Fort Bend County residents and encourage them to seek medical attention if they suspect they have been exposed to the monkeypox virus. Our concern, as always, is for the safety and well-being of our communities.

Last month, the Houston Department of Health reported its first cases in the area linked to recent international travel.

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Monkeypox can spread to all people, regardless of age, race, identity, or sexual orientation. It is spread by contact with an infectious rash, scabs, body fluids, respiratory secretions, or prolonged face-to-face or intimate physical contact. You can also get the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, such as underwear or clothing, according to officials.

“Chickenpox does cause a rash, and it can spread from the onset of symptoms until the rash is completely healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed,” Kayla Williams, MPH, MEP, CPH, Fort Bend County Health & Human Services Director of communications, capital and commitment, said. “Anyone with a new rash should contact their healthcare provider, especially if they think they had it with someone who has monkeypox.”

Monkeypox usually begins as a flu-like illness with individuals having a fever, rash or swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC. The disease lasts two to four weeks and can spread from the time symptoms begin until the rash has completely healed and a new layer of skin has formed.

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The Department of Health says anyone who develops these symptoms should isolate themselves from others to prevent or minimize the risk of spreading the disease to others and seek medical attention to be evaluated for potential testing.

The Fort Bend County Office of Health and Human Services has established a hotline for questions: 832 471-1373. It will also post updates on their social media accounts via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More information: https://www.fbchealth.org/

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