Monkeypox hotline created as cases continue to rise across Houston-area

Monkeypox cases are on the rise across the country and in the Houston area. Before any more Houstonians contract Monkeypox the Harris County Health Department has now established a hotline.

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Galveston County, for example, reported its first probable case Wednesday, and to give you a little perspective, just last month there were three cases of Monkeypox in the entire state of Texas. Now that number has grown to 81 across the state with nearly 30 Monkeypox cases here in Houston and Harris County.

"Cases are rising nationwide," explains Harris County Health Authority Dr. Ericka Brown. 

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Some indicators you have the illness could include. 

"Flu-like symptoms, a fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat but some people don’t experience that at all. The illness can last anywhere from 14 to 21 days," Dr. Brown says. 

There have now been 26 cases of monkeypox in Houston/Harris County as an outbreak of the disease spreads across the country in 43 states so far according to the CDC. Some who become ill also break out in a painful rash that can look like blisters.

"It can be in various stages. So pimple-like, blister-like. Some can be crusted over. The key is, if there’s an unknown rash that is a little bit painful it’s time to get checked out," Dr. Brown adds, and she says Monkeypox is spread through direct contact. 

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"Most often sexual contact, as is the case with the cases that we have here in the state of Texas and most of the cases throughout the country. It can also be spread through animals, hence the name Monkeypox. In the endemic West African area, that’s where it got its name, it’s spread through rodents and through primates". 

Dr. Brown says you can also contract Monkeypox from contact with clothing and bedding that have fluid from the rash. So should we be concerned with hotel stays and vacation rentals? "Typically no. Hotels and vacation rentals most often have procedures to clean their linens in between guests and as long as that is happening there really is low risk," answers Dr. Brown. 

Another question many people have. Will Monkeypox cases skyrocket as COVID did? 

"I don’t think that we will see spread in the same ways that we have seen the COVID pandemic for two reasons. Number one, this is direct contact. COVID is spread through aerosol, similar to colds," Dr. Brown explains.

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Fort Bend County has 2 probable cases of Monkeypox. Montgomery County is reporting 1 case. Brazoria hasn’t had any. You’re asked to contact the Harris County Monkeypox Hotline at 832-927-0707 if you have symptoms or believe you've been exposed to the virus.