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Texas health officials said Tuesday they had identified the first case of monkeypox in the state, but noted that the disease currently poses no risk to the general public.
The case was identified in a Dallas County resident who recently traveled overseas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The department is working with Dallas County Health and Human Services and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the case.
Health officials said they also identified “a few” people who may have been exposed to the virus in Dallas. Those people monitor themselves for symptoms of infection, officials said.
In May, several cases of monkeypox were reported in countries that do not regularly report the disease. This is not typical of past patterns of monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization. The organization is working with all affected countries, including the United States, to investigate the outbreak and provide advice on how to stop the spread and treat those infected.
The risk of this epidemic becoming widespread is low, according to the WHO. Monkeypox is generally not considered highly contagious because it requires close physical contact with an infectious person to spread.
With the Texas case reported on Tuesday, about 35 cases have now been identified in 14 states and Washington, DC, this year, according to the CDC. Around 1,000 cases were reported in 29 countries in 2022, with most cases in the UK, Spain and Portugal, according to CDC data.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from animals to humans and between humans, according to the World Health Organization. Symptoms of the disease usually include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rash or sores.
The disease is usually transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, according to the WHO. It can also be transmitted from person to person by inhalation of large respiratory droplets or through close contact with body fluids and wounds or contaminated bedding and other materials.
Several vaccines for the prevention of smallpox may provide some protection against monkeypox. A vaccine that was developed for smallpox and approved in 2019 to prevent monkeypox is not yet widely available, according to the WHO. However, people who have been vaccinated against smallpox in the past will have some protection against monkeypox.
Monkeypox is usually found in West and Central Africa, where animals that can carry the virus usually live.
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