The risk of monkeypox to the public is “very low”

WACO, Texas – The first case of monkeypox was discovered in Texas on Tuesday. The CDC describes monkeypox as a milder case of smallpox.

The disease is not new but is now making headlines as it moves out of African countries where it is usually found.

“Until May 2022, whenever we saw cases of monkeypox, they were always associated with travel. A person traveled to an African country and had it, so we had this connection,” Vaidehi Shah of Waco-McLennan County Public Health District

The concern began when the UK reported new cases in people who had not travelled. There are now more than 1,300 cases in 31 countries, including the United States.

Medical experts said there was no need to panic as the disease does not spread as easily as COVID-19.

“It’s nowhere near as contagious as the SARS coronavirus which is airborne and really spreads through the air and respiratory droplets,” said infectious disease specialist Dr David Dijohn. “It’s not prevalent that way.”

There are several main ways it is spread to humans, including direct contact with an infected animal or person. This means that the skin is actually touching wounds, rashes, or bodily fluids or material such as clothing that has touched it. It can also be passed from a pregnant mother to her baby.

“It can also spread through respiratory reasons, but it’s very long and prolonged face-to-face contact,” Shah added. “Typically, this happens when there is intimate contact between people, such as during sex or activities like cuddling or kissing.”

Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and an unexplainable rash. If you think you have monkeypox, we encourage you to see a doctor as soon as possible.

“Before you can go see a medical professional, let them know over the phone that you have a rash so they can prepare,” Shah said.

Monkeypox is treatable and there are already vaccines available.

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