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Health officials confirm case of monkeypox in UT Austin community

A spokesperson for University Health Services said the case was confirmed late last week.

AUSTIN, Texas — A case of monkeypox has been confirmed within the University of Texas at Austin community, according to a spokesperson for University Health Services. 

The spokesperson said the case was confirmed late last week, after cases began appearing in Austin-Travis County, and was first reported Sunday by The Daily Texan.

"We expect that our campus community will mirror the surrounding Austin community with regard to the incidence of this virus, as we have seen with other communicable diseases," the spokesperson said. "The risk to the greater campus community remains low, and the virus does not spread easily without close contact." 

No other details about the case were shared. 

In a Thursday press conference regarding monkeypox in the area, Austin Public Health officials said there were nine confirmed cases of the virus and eight presumptive cases. Officials said that the virus is now considered "community spread" as new infections have begun to appear in people without a history of travel. 

Williamson County health officials previously said they were awaiting test results on a presumptive monkeypox case.

   

Austin Public Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said the health department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide testing to those suspected of having monkeypox. They are providing vaccines to those who have had close contact with someone who tested positive. Those vaccines are not widely available at this time. 

However, U.S. health officials said Friday that more than 100,000 vaccine doses are being sent to states in the coming days, with several million more on order in the months ahead. 

Once more vaccines are available, APH said it plans to expand availability. 

To prevent the spread, APH is warning against skin-to-skin contact with strangers, especially those who have a rash or whose health history is unknown. The virus can be spread by contact including: 

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact
  • Touching fabrics and objects that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected such as bedding, towels and other personal items
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:   

  • Fever   
  • Headache   
  • Muscle aches and backache   
  • Swollen lymph nodes   
  • Chills   
  • Exhaustion   
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, like the hands/palms, feet, chest or genitals. The rash goes through different stages before healing completely.

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