SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Metropolitan Health officials separated fact from fiction at an educational forum on the prevention and transmission of the latest public health emergency, the monkeypox virus.
On Thursday, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health crisis, with more than 6,000 cases reported nationwide.
Texas has reported 527 cases and Bexar County has reported 16 as of Thursday.
Metro Assistant Health Director Anita Kurian said the public needs to learn about the virus to learn how to prevent contracting it.
“It’s really important to understand what it is and how it’s transmitted so you can use prevention strategies,” Kurian said.
What are the signs and symptoms of monkeypox?
Someone infected will experience flu-like symptoms 1-3 weeks after exposure.
Ninety-nine percent of people reported that the rash appeared 3 to 4 weeks after exposure. It can start as a rash and develop into painful lesions with a point in the middle.
Sixty-four percent of people reported having a fever.
Seventy percent of people reported feeling tired.
Sixty-three percent of people reported enlarged lymph nodes.
Who is at risk of infection?
According to Dr. Kurian, “the window for containment is closing fast.”
Currently, 99% of reported cases nationally and locally have involved gay and bisexual men. Kurian said that the virus does not discriminate.
“I cannot stress enough that anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can become infected and transmit the disease if you come into close contact with someone who has it,” Kurian said.
How can I protect myself from getting monkeypox?
The behavior that is transmitted is direct, prolonged contact with a person who has the rash or scabs.
Kissing, hugging or dancing at a crowded party with minimal clothing can also increase your chances of getting infected.
Monkeypox is NOT spread by casual contact, such as touching a doorknob or using public toilets or public transport.
It is unclear whether an asymptomatic person can spread the virus. Kuryan said that there is limited data on this matter.
What about the monkeypox vaccine?
There is currently no specific monkeypox vaccine, but Kurian said smallpox vaccines are used because the two viruses are in the same family.
If you haven’t had the smallpox vaccine in the past two years, Kurian said it may not be effective against monkeypox.
Who can get the smallpox vaccine?
Priority doses will be given to people who are infected.
Second priority doses will be given to people who were in close contact with the infected person
People with compromised immune systems or people living with HIV who have been exposed to the virus may be eligible.
Last week, San Antonio received enough vaccines for 500 people. Health officials hope new doses will be available soon, but it’s unclear when.
How can monkey pox be treated?
There is currently no cure for monkeypox and it is mainly treated with antiviral drugs.
Exposed people are asked to quarantine until their scabs heal, which could take several weeks.
How can I stay informed?
San Antonio Metro Health will provide daily case updates and information here. Health Services will hold another forum at the Luther Cafe on August 18.
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