We spoke to Dr. Sandra Guerra, chief medical officer for Texas Health Action, and Austin Public Health to answer some of the most pressing questions about monkeypox.
What are monkeypox symptoms?
Flulike symptoms may precede a rash. Rashes, lesions, or sores, which look like pimples can appear. Monkeypox is rarely fatal, but more severe cases have been reported in the immunocompromised, pregnant people, and children under 8.
How could I get monkeypox?
Monkeypox is overwhelmingly spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infectious rash or sore, mostly during sex. It can also be spread via kissing, drink-sharing, and towels or clothes that contact infectious rashes. Though 98% of cases have been found in men, in Dr. Guerra's words, "Anyone who is human may be at risk."
What should I do if I have symptoms?
Avoid close contact with other people and contact your health care provider. If you don't have one, call APH's equity line – 512/972-5560 – for info on testing, vaccines, and treatment. If you have a rash or sore, keep it covered to avoid spreading. Laundering sheets and towels will sufficiently disinfect them. The illness (and isolation period) lasts 2-4 weeks, or until scabs from sores fall off.
Who can get vaccinated?
As of July 29, APH has enough vaccine doses for 1,500 people. Travis County is prioritizing people who were exposed to a known case in the last 14 days, then people who have had multiple sexual partners in Travis County in the last 14 days.
How is monkeypox different from COVID-19?
It's harder to spread and we have access to treatments and vaccinations, unlike the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Monkeypox is only contagious when an infected person is symptomatic, and the risk of reinfection is low. Similarly to COVID, controlling outbreaks early can prevent mutations.
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