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Monkeypox cases in Texas now at 27 statewide with 11 in Houston area

“We want people to know what the symptoms are, and if they have symptoms, to avoid the types of close contact with other people that can spread the disease.”

HOUSTON — The number of monkeypox cases in Texas is now 27, according to the Department of State Health Services. That's up from 20 on Tuesday.

DSHS says 11 of those cases are in the Greater Houston area.

Editor's note: The above video originally aired on July 6.

The disease, which can cause a serious skin rash, appears to be spreading largely via direct contact with the skin or saliva of an infected person.

All of the patients, so far, have been males and many of them contracted it during sex with other me, according to DSHS. Health officials say anyone in that category should be "especially aware of the situation and take precautions to avoid direct contact with partners who have a rash." 

Anyone who develops a rash should avoid direct contact with other people and contact their health care provider as soon as possible for the next steps.

"We are trying desperately to nip it in the bud," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

RELATED: Here's what you need to know about monkeypox

Breakdown by age

  • Under 21:  1
  • 21-29:      11
  • 30-39:        8
  • 40-49:        4
  • 50-59:        2
  • Over 60:    1

There is a preventative vaccine that’s at least 85 percent effective if given within four days of exposure. It’s available on request from the national stockpile on an as-needed basis. That’s because the CDC has designated monkeypox as a “low risk” infection.

“This isn’t a disease that’s like COVID or like the flu or measles where having a short conversation with someone or interacting with somebody at the store, at work is going to spread it,” said Chris Van Deusen, the director of media relations with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The first few cases of monkeypox in Texas were in patients who had traveled overseas or to Mexico. But health departments soon began seeing cases in people who had not traveled out of the country or the state.

“With the sharp increase in monkeypox cases worldwide, it’s not surprising to see the virus spread in Texas,” Dr. Jennifer Shuford, the chief state epidemiologist, said late last week. “We want people to know what the symptoms are, and if they have symptoms, to avoid the types of close contact with other people that can spread the disease.”

Monkeypox symptoms

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills 
  • Exhaustion
  • Rash that looks like pimples or blisters; the rash often appears first on the face and/or inside the mouth and then on other parts of the body.

Monkeypox can spread from person to person through direct contact with the rash, scabs or bodily fluids like saliva.

It can also be transmitted with prolonged face-to-face contact via respiratory droplets.   

Doctors and clinics are asked to notify the health department about suspected cases to help in testing and allow public health to determine whether anyone who had close contact with the patient should get the monkeypox vaccine. 

If given within four days of exposure, the vaccine can prevent people from getting sick from the virus. 

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